Essays and Reports

Iraq health update: Summer 2005


July 26, 2005

An update of a report by UK-based charity organization Medact has found growing evidence of corruption and a lack of transparency within Iraq’s Coalitional Provisional Authority.

“Enduring Effects of War: Health in Iraq 2004,” was published by Medact – a UK-based organisation of health professionals whose work highlights the health impacts of violent
conflict, poverty and environmental degradation. The report has found growing evidence of corruption and a lack of transparency within Iraq’s Coalitional Provisional Authority (CPA) since the release of its 2004 report. According to the Medact update, inadequate CPA controls have meant that “there was no assurance that $8.8bn from the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) had been used, as mandated by Security Council
resolution 1483, ‘to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, for the economic reconstruction and repair of Iraq’s infrastructure, for the continued disarmament of Iraq, for the costs of Iraqi civilian administration, and for other purposes benefiting the people of Iraq’.” The DFI is Iraqi money, mostly revenue from oil sales, and $8.8bn is equivalent to almost 10 years of Ministry of Health spending at current (2004) levels, reports Medact. In regard to Iraq’s debts and reparations, Medact reports that while many welcomed the 2004 Paris Club debt deal, Saad Salih Jabr, chairman of the Iraqi National
Assembly’s Economic Committee, called it “yet another crime committed against the Iraqi people.” One problem is that Iraq’s debts are so vast, even 80% relief will not alleviate the problem. Even if the non Paris Club creditors agree to 80% reductions Iraq would still be
shackled with more than $25bn of debt, on top of more than $31bn in war reparations and repayments for any new debts to the International Monetary Fund and others. Another powerful critique of the Iraq debt deal is a moral one, concludes Medact. “Surely creditors are more responsible for this unpaid debt than are the people who suffered under Saddam?” Medact reports that “many of the loans were used to arm the
dictatorship or for luxuries.” However, a resolution of the Iraqi National Assembly used the doctrine of odious debt to declare that debts stemming from loans that did not benefit the Iraqi people should be repudiated. The Assembly called for a fair arbitration tribunal
where creditors would have to prove that their claims came from loans which benefited Iraq. Medact urges that “this certainly merits investigation.” A moral argument, it says, “can also be used to argue for a cancellation of the reparations Iraq is currently paying
countries such as Kuwait, and companies such as Texaco and Toys’R’Us for damages, including loss of earnings incurred during the first Gulf War. The Iraqi people suffered greatly during that war and should not be held responsible for it.”

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