Andrew.Bacelis@directory.reed.edu (Andrew Bacelis)
27 Feb 2000 17:02:27 PST
globe_l: von Sponeck to report on no-fly-zone airstrikes (Wash Post 2/17)
--- Forwarded Message from Peace and Justice Works <email@example.com> ---
>Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 10:42:20 -0800 (PST)
>Subject: von Sponeck to report on no-fly-zone airstrikes (Wash Post 2/17)
U.N. Aide Who Quit in Protest Plans Report on Airstrikes on Iraq
By Colum Lynch
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, February 17, 2000; Page A23
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 16--Hans von Sponeck, one of two senior U.N.
officials who resigned this week to protest the impact of economic
sanctions on Iraq, said today he will present a farewell report on the
devastation caused by U.S. and British airstrikes on Iraqi territory.
The career U.N. official from Germany, who is responsible for
overseeing the distribution of humanitarian goods in Iraq, infuriated
U.S. and British officials by writing a similar report on airstrikes
last year. Von Sponeck's decision to revisit the issue before his
March 31 departure was viewed by American officials as a parting act
of defiance against the allied powers, which have pushed for his
removal for months.
In a telephone interview from his office in Baghdad, von Sponeck said
he and Jutta Burghardt, a fellow German who is head of the World Food
Program in Iraq, resigned after concluding that a U.N. Security
Council resolution in December provided false hope that the suffering
of ordinary Iraqis would soon be eased.
"I do not want to be associated with a Band-Aid that is inadequate to
end the plight of the civilian population," von Sponeck said.
U.N. officials in New York originally claimed this week that
Burghardt's departure was coincidental. But she told reporters in
Baghdad today that she was quitting in solidarity with von Sponeck. "I
fully support what Mr. von Sponeck is saying," she said.
The United Nations and the Iraqi government are at an impasse over the
December resolution, which offered to suspend some sanctions if Iraq
cooperates with a new arms inspection commission. Iraq has refused to
allow the inspectors to return.
Meanwhile, U.S. and British jets patrolling "no-fly" zones in northern
and southern Iraq have been responding to antiaircraft fire with
almost daily airstrikes.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said von Sponeck's plan to
report on the airstrikes underscores his tendency to exceed his
authority and to rely on Iraqi propaganda. "He has a habit of
reporting Iraqi claims of casualties from the air attacks without
having the ability to verify those claims," Rubin said.
While conceding that he relied heavily on Iraqi sources for his
previous report, von Sponeck said U.N. staff workers witnessed 23 of
the 99 airstrikes investigated by his office. He said he personally
witnessed three attacks.
© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company
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