View Full Version : Another reason to dump the UN?

04-11-03, 08:53 PM

UN accuses allies over looting
(Filed: 11/04/2003)

The United Nations has accused the American-led coalition of breaking the Geneva Convention by failing to protect hospitals in Baghdad from looters.

Iraqis tie a looted wardrobe to the top of a car
The UN Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI) said the Kindi hospital, one of the largest in the Iraqi capital, had been ransacked as had other medical centres.

It said the breakdown of law and order has led to "anarchy and chaos" on the streets of the city.

The UN's claims have been supported by reports from journalists who have said that looting has spread throughout Baghdad.

Andrew Gilligan, a BBC reporter, said he had counted more than 150 burnt-out shops as well as reporting that he had seen a 16-year-old boy beaten to death by an angry mob.

The UN pointed the finger of blame firmly at the United States and its allies for failing to stop the disorder.

The "inaction by the occupying powers" had violated the Geneva Convention which explicitly states that hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients must be protected, the UNOHCI said in a statement.

"The coalition forces seem to be unable to restrain the looters or impose any sort of controls on the mobs that now govern the streets."

It added: "This situation not only endangers the lives of the war wounded, but of all patients who need regular treatment, such as dialysis in city's hospitals."

The organisation, which has no personnel in Iraq, based its assessement on evidence presented by the Red Cross who has a media liaison officer in the capital.

"The picture he painted over the phone can be summed up in two words: anarchy and chaos. There is no law and no order at the moment in Baghdad," said the UNOHCI.

Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, has backed the UN's claims by calling for the US military to mount a "massively bigger effort" to defend hospitals.

Ms Short said: "It [the aid effort] should focus on hospitals. There were lots of injured people. The Red Cross can't get through.

"There isn't water, there isn't power, they are running out of drugs. It is an absolute priority to make the hospitals safer."

But other ministers claimed that the reports of looting in Baghdad have been exaggerated by the media.

Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces minister, said Iraqis had mostly ransacked buildings associated with Saddam Hussein's regime.

He also singled out the BBC for criticism.

Mr Ingram said: "I cannot accept reports like one on the BBC this morning suggesting that the people of Baghdad are 'passing their first days of freedom in more fear than they have ever know before'.

"That cannot possibly be accurate given the extent and nature of that regime - a regime that murdered, brutalised tens of thousands of its own people right up to the very last moment."

Despite the bleak picture, the Red Cross has resumed its visits to hospitals in Baghdad saying the security situation was still "volatile".

A UNOHCI spokesman based in the Jordanian capital Amman said as soon as it could guarantee the security of its staff it would be sending humanitarian aid into Iraq.
External links

UN Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq

International Committee of the Red Cross

Department for International Development


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