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Social Justice Council renews call to ease Iraq's pain

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has again stressed its opposition to the economic sanctions that have crippled Iraq.

The Catholic Weekly reports that last year the Council issued a statement arguing that coercive measures, military or otherwise, must "observe the letter and spirit of humanitarian law" and should not "have indiscriminate or disproportionate effects on the civilian population."

"Catholic theology demands that force discriminate between women and children and combatants," the Council's National Executive Officer told the paper.

She said economic sanctions against Iraq fail to meet these criteria.

UNICEF found in 1999 that, after dropping for the previous 30 years, the child mortality rate rose rapidly after sanctions began in 1991. If the downward trend had continued, though, "there would have been a half a million fewer deaths of children under five in the country as a whole between 1991-1998."

Cardinal Clancy and Archbishop Francis Carroll were among 43 prominent Australians who signed a letter this year urging the Government to lobby for the lifting of sanctions.

The latest call by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council comes in the wake of a British proposal to allow Iraq to import a full range of civilian goods without restriction.

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
UNICEF: Iraq statistics

Catholic Weekly