Letters from Iraq- Dec. 8. Meeting with Francis Dubois, UNDP official

Meeting with Francis Dubois, UNDP official. Baghdad, Iraq Dec. 8,2002

French national. Was exchange student at Edison High School in Minneapolis (AFS program). Lived in US for 10 years. The Americans are generous, open. The countryside is beautiful but the politics of the US are terrible.

Saddened by what is happening in this region and around the world.
Has been in Iraq for 4 years.
The sanctions are a humiliation. They consist of over 12,000 pages of documents. When will it be enough? Although it is apparent there are rational decisions behind the sanctions, we don’t know what those reasons are. It is both about weapons and economics. It is obviously linked with Saudi Arabia.

It is a privilege to work it Iraq, a great country that exhibits resilience, generosity, hospitality. In France, people complain about everything. Here in Iraq, they don’t complain. It strengthens my spirituality to be here.

I joined the UN to work for peace. I am a man of peace. A was will lead nowhere. To target Iraq will not fight terrorism. The US is aiming at the wrong target. The west will pay dearly for this in increasing Islamic fundamentalism. (Remember, women cannot even drive or work outside the home in Saudi Arabia in 2002). The Palestinian people are desperate. We must have dialog and reconciliation, not threats.

I’m much safer living here in Baghdad than in NYC or Paris (where I was mugged in the Metro).

To focus now on Saddam is dirty politics. Where were we 15 years ago? (The US was supporting and arming him). A friend of his in the UN in NYC said to him: “The US is creating 5,000 Osama bin Ladens everyday”.

People in Iraq are tired. There is such fatigue setting in.

The Oil for Food program has $59 billion USD/ per year. This program has slighlt improved conditions under the sanctions. It has brought a lot of change in the 3 northern sectors (Kurdish areas). The money is used for food, electricity, education, telecommunications. However, 32% of the commodities requested have been put on “hold” by US or British reps on the committee.

Where is the end of the tunnel? My personal opinion is that the sanctions are ill conceived because there is no end in sight. He met with Hans Blix and was told that the Iraqi cooperation with the weapons inspection was good.

Saddam has allowed the Christian churches to be full. Christians feel he has protected them from the Islamic fundamentalist movement. There have been violations of human rights but there are also positive things he has done. I’m not the Human Rights Commissioner, my job is to help the poor. There are human rights violations in the US, Britain, and France as well. There are darker countries where human rights are more violated. There are clearly double standards: what about other countries in this region who have violated UN Resolutions?

Because of the sanctions, there have been no professional medical journals allowed into Iraq in the last 12 years. There is a desperate need for them, especially on CD ROMs.

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