A Hungry New Year In Iraq ...
Happy New Year?
For some, maybe.
Read this and weep.
Informazione dall'iraq occupato ~ Information from occupied iraq
أخبار من العراق المحتل
Saddam Provided More Food Than the U.S.
Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*
BAQUBA, Dec 27 (IPS) - The Iraqi government announcement that monthly food rations will be cut by half has left many Iraqis asking how they can survive.The government also wants to reduce the number of
people depending on the rationing system by five million by June 2008.
Iraq's food rations system was introduced by the Saddam Hussein government in 1991 in response to the UN economic sanctions. Families were allotted basic foodstuffs monthly because the Iraqi Dinar and the economy collapsed.The sanctions, imposed after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, were described as "genocidal" by Denis Halliday, then UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.
Halliday quit his post in protest against the U.S.-backed sanctions.The sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children, and as many adults, according to the UN. They brought malnutrition, disease, and lack of medicines. Iraqis became nearly completely reliant on food rations for survival. The programme has continued into the U.S.-led occupation.But now the U.S.-backed Iraqi government has announced it will halve the essential items in the ration because of "insufficient funds and spiralling inflation."
The imminent move will affect nearly 10 million people who depend on the rationing system. But it has already caused outrage in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad."The monthly food ration was the only help from the government," local grocer Ibrahim al-Ageely told IPS. "It was of great benefit for the families. The food ration consisted of two kilos of rice, sugar, soap, tea, detergent, wheat flour, lentils, chick-peas, and other items for every individual."Another grocer said the food ration was the "life of all Iraqis; every month, Iraqis wait in queues to receive their food rations.
"According to an Oxfam International report released in July this year, "60 percent (of Iraqis) currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004."The report said that "43 percent of Iraqis suffer from absolute poverty," and that according to some estimates over half the population are now without work.
"Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now."
Read the rest of this heart rending report from Iraq.
(Hat tip to 'sweet old lady')