From BBCNews:

Children ‘starving’ in new Iraq

Increasing numbers of children in Iraq do not have enough food to eat and more than a quarter are chronically undernourished, a UN report says.

Malnutrition rates in children under five have almost doubled since the US-led intervention – to nearly 8% by the end of last year, … (more below + POLL)

Only a smattering of U.S. media outlets have the story so far.

The AlJazeera story notes that “in reporting the 7.7 percent malnutrition rate for Iraqi youngsters, the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science said last November that the figure was similar to the levels witnessed in some African countries.”

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSpeaking to the UN human rights body on Wednesday, Jean Ziegler, a hunger specialist, noted that malnutrition amongst Iraq’s young almost doubled since the U.S. led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

The UN’s Human Rights Commission’s special expert on the right to food said that by last fall 7.7 per cent of children under the age of 5 in Iraq suffered from acute malnutrition.

Malnutrition, a disease which is exacerbated by the lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, is a major killer of children in poor countries. Children who survive are usually physically and mentally impaired for life, and are more vulnerable to disease.

The situation facing Iraqi youngsters is “a result of the war led by coalition forces,” said Ziegler, an outspoken Swiss sociology professor and former lawmaker whose previous targets have included Swiss banks, China, Brazil and Israels treatment of Palestinians.

A quick study on how politics and war affect child nutrition, from the AlJazeera story:

During the 1970s and 1980s Iraq was generally regarded as having good nutrition, but health problems only emerged when the Security Council imposed sanctions after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Ziegler did not mention the role violence is playing in the nutrition problem, something often cited by aid groups.

Last year, Carol Bellamy, head of UNICEF, said the violence hampers the delivery of adequate supplies of food.

Ziegler also cited an October 2004 U.S. study that estimated as many as 100,000 more Iraqis, [mostly] women and children, have died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion . . . The number is higher than those who would have normally have died, based on the death rate before the war.

“Most died as a result of the violence, but many others died as a result of the increasingly difficult living conditions, reflected in increasing child mortality levels,” …

The U.S. response so far, from the BBCNews:

Governments must recognise their extra-territorial obligations towards the right to food and should not do anything that might undermine access to it of people living outside their borders, [the report] says.

That point is aimed clearly at the US, but Washington, which has sent a large delegation to the Human Rights Commission, declined to respond to the charges, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva. …

Emphases mine.

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