The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Iraq: Who is hurt by sanctions?

'We cannot tolerate the suffering and death of countless innocents'

His stomach won't stop bleeding. Neither his mother nor his doctor can make him feel better. After more than a month of treatments, Mortadha Riadh still feels ill.

Mortadha has leukemia. His mother brought him to Baghdad from their home in Iraq's Nisirya province so the best doctors could treat him. She hoped for a cure.

Basim Al Abdili knows which treatments would give Mortadha a chance of surviving. But the doctor says those medicines aren't available because of U.N. economic sanctions. The oil-for-food program — designed to lessen the worst of the sanctions — isn't working and children are dying, he says.

Mark Brown of the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Washington, D.C., said the licensing and delivery process for getting humanitarian supplies into Iraq is "cumbersome" and "slow." It's also difficult to distribute them because the U.S. government is concerned that some items, such as refrigeration trucks to carry medicine, have a dual use and could be used in a weapons program, he says.

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February issue


Embracing diversity