New calls to end sanctions on Iraq

 The Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, has repeated its call for an immediate end of comprehensive sanctions against Iraq - in the wake of moves by the UK and US, to change the current sanctions regime. The new British drafted UN Security Council resolution, backed by the USA, is due to be tabled today (Monday). It appears to propose the lifting of sanctions on ordinary imports to Iraq while strengthening the sanctions on military goods. Julian Filochowski, CAFOD's Director who travelled to Iraq in January as part of a delegation of European Catholic aid agencies, said: "Following our visit to Iraq we condemned the current sanctions as humanly catastrophic, morally indefensible and politically ineffective. We interpret the recent proposals from the UK and the USA as an implicit acknowledgement that the sanctions in force are a failed policy that can no longer be justified. We welcome that change of heart." He said: "We now hope that negotiations on these proposals can produce a consensus that will form the basis of a new relationship with the Iraqi people. However if we are right that Western countries no longer believe in these sanctions, there can be no possible justification for imposing them for much longer. Every month that these sanctions stay in place produces more death and misery for thousands of innocent people. There is a moral imperative to treat this issue with great urgency." CAFOD's partner organisation in Iraq has called on world leaders to end the sanctions immediately and cease using the sanctions on civilians as a "bargaining chip" in their conflict with the Iraqi authorities. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales added their voice to those calling for a suspension of sanctions on Iraq at their meeting in April. Their statement rejected the argument that the sanctions are a price worth paying for the achievement of military and political goals: "The conference does not regard the suffering of the Iraqi people as an unfortunate example of 'collateral damage' in pursuit of legitimate objectives."

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