The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have repeated their call for the international community to end the sanctions on Iraq, which are causing intense suffering for the Iraqi people. The statement from the bishops' Low Week Conference follows: The Bishops' Conference believes that the UN comprehensive sanctions against Iraq are humanly catastrophic and morally indefensible. The Conference accepts that the international community has a pressing obligation to restrict the military capacity of the present Iraq Government, and that this obligation requires effective monitoring and control. But this does not justify a programme of sanctions where the primary victims are the Iraqi people at large who are powerless to affect the regime's policy. The Conference asks for prayers for all the people of Iraq whose suffering is directly related to the imposition of sanctions. The Bishops' Conference does not regard this suffering as an unfortunate example of 'collateral damage' in pursuit of legitimate objectives. The Bishops' Conference urges the British Government to work urgently for the suspension of comprehensive sanctions at the earliest possible moment, so that a new relationship with the Government and people of Iraq can be initiated, and the current impasse brought to an end. source: CMO An international Catholic delegation visited Iraq earlier this year, and saw at first hand the suffering caused by sanctions. Their report can be found on the CAFOD website - accessible through our links pages.