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PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE : Embargo: Iraqis Hurt, Hussein Untouched

August 29, 1993| Khalid Faris teaches math at Mt. San Antonio College.

WALNUT, California — Six weeks ago, while my brothers and sisters were visiting my mother in Baghdad, she slipped, fell and broke her thigh bone. My family took her to a private hospital. Doctors said she needed a stainless-steel re placement after surgery to replace the bone with a plastic one failed.

One brother traveled to Jordan to obtain one. Soon after, my mother underwent a second operation and, a week later, the surgical stitching ruptured because the wound was infected. The hospital, it turns out, either did not haveenough antibiotics or was using the wrong ones. Doctors had mainly cleaned the wound--and prayed. My mother end

ed up losing her leg. She is immobilized for the rest of her life.

Yes, the United Nations embargo is strangling Iraq! Medical equipment and medicines are extremely scarce. Inflation is soaring. Food prices have risen 100 times. Imagine: Next week, the price of a loaf of bread will be $150.

No surprise that I often have to send my mother some money. But because of the U.N. embargo, no bank deals are made with Iraq. I have to find someone--not necessarily someone whom I know and trust--going to Jordan who, in turn, will hopefully find someone going to Baghdad so the money can be delivered to my mother. One time, the money arrived too late: My mother had sold her living-room and dining-room furniture in order to eat.

Now, besides supporting my wife and my two children, I must take care of my mother-in-law, who came here on a visit before the Gulf War started. I can't find it in my heart to send her back to Baghdad.

While the embargo takes its toll on my family and my friends' families and hundreds of thousands of families in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is still in power, strengthening his chokehold on us.

Last time we bombed Baghdad, eight civilians were reportedly killed. The building housing the secret service was demolished. But Hussein still has his files on every Iraqi, including those who live outside the country. And the message went: We will continue to bomb you and choke you economically until you are all beggars, pimps and prostitutes. But we will spare Hussein. The damage inflicted on the Iraqi people by the U.N. embargo will have long-lasting effects. Children will continue to either die from hunger or suffer from malnutrition. The elderly will continue to have nightmares of the war and of the bombings. The luckless who get into an accident will either die or be permanently disabled because of there is little basic medical care.

Something has to be done to help the Iraqis. Iraq has richly contributed to humanity. Its people deserve a better deal. The embargo has to be reconsidered. A policy that denies millions access to food and medicine--and their dignity--should not be allowed to continue.*

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