[Sinn Fein]

11th February 2003

Minister Cowen bears ``personal responsibility'' for executive decision to back war preparation - Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Fein spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has warned that Minister Cowen bears ``personal responsibility for the imminent humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq, since the Government has refused to consult the Dáil or the Irish people on their Iraq war policy.

At a press conference pledging Sinn Fein''s endorsement of the anti-war appeal by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Kurdistan Solidarity Ireland, and the Campaign to End Sanctions in Iraq, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``The evidence is clear. As a result of war and sanctions, the Iraqi and Kurdish people are more vulnerable than ever. Experts are warning of a grave humanitarian disaster in the event of war. Iraq currently has only one month''s supply of food and three month''s supply of medicines. The UN estimates that in the event of war, half a million Iraqis and Kurds could require emergency medical treatment, yet their medicine supplies would only last 3-4 weeks from the renewal of conflict. 16 million people are 100% dependent on government distributed food rations. If war breaks out, this distribution system will be disrupted, leading to food shortages, malnutrition, and starvation. The UN estimates that a new war could lead to more than 1.4 million refugees, and as many as 2 million internally displaced persons. 

``Having refused to consult either the Dáil or the Irish people on its policy of participation in war preparation, this Government now must bear responsibility for its complicity in the outcome of this war. Minister Cowen in particular must acknowledge that by his executive decision to assist the war effort he is risking a humanitarian catastrophe. ENDS

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