Baghdad (Fides Service) – “At last we can say that the UN sanctions are a thing of the past” says Rev. Nizar Samaan from the diocese of Mosul in Iraq. “On hearing this news we rejoice and we hope that as soon as possible the consequences of 13 years of sanctions will be overcome and that Iraq will be more human and more civil” says Rev. Nizar who voices his hopes for the future: “I hope that the profits from the sale of oil and all of Iraq’s resources will truly be used for the reconstruction of the country and will be divided fairly among the people. If this is done then I think than in two or three years’ time we will see a new modern Iraq able to offer its citizens adequate health and education services and a general improvement of living conditions for all”.
Rev. Nizar recalls that “in these 13 years in our homilies and speeches we Catholic priests in Iraq always affirmed that the sanctions were a crime against a whole nation because from the first year we saw the impact on the people especially the weakest sectors of society. Today the sanctions have been lifted and it is right to describe the situation of the Iraqi people during those years. We hope that this painful report will be a warning to the international community to avoid the same mistakes in the future. In these 13 years more than 500,000 children died. The number of poor increased to reach today more than 60% of the population and the unemployment rate has risen to 75%. A large movement of emigration was started among young people: more than 1 million left Iraq seeking fortune elsewhere and thousands of students had to suspend their studies. The sanctions caused serious deficiency in our health care services, lack of medicines, machinery and structures. Crime has also increased, as well as extremist Muslim movements”.
“The only positive note – says Rev. Nizar - is that among Christians the sanctions reawakened and strengthened the spirit of solidarity and charity (family and social). We can say that these 13 years were an authentic opportunity to give true testimony of what it means to be a Christian”. LM (Fides Service 26/5/2003 EM lines 32 Words: 414)