The following is an article from United Press International (UPI). Read the article and answer the questions that follow. Send your amswers back to me via email.
I suggest that you print out this article - it's a bit long for easy reading on a computer screen.
By THANAA IMAM
BAGHDAD (UPI) Thousands of children are feared to face death in Iraq, where a simple sickness could turn into a nightmare and where survival becomes more difficult every day.
During seven years of economic sanctions, imposed by the United Nations after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq says it has lost nearly 2.4 million children, including 1.5 million under the age of five.
"We expect to lose thousands more if the embargo continues," said Iraqi Health Minister Omeed Midhat.
Midhat cited lack of vaccines and delays in public services such as garbage removal and the provision of clean drinking water as the main causes for an increase by 20 percent in many diseases.
"Cholera, typhoid, jaundice and polio surfaced again after we succeeded in controlling them in the early 1980s," he said.
Midhat said hospitals were now forced to receive only "the most critical cases." Their original capacity of 300,000 beds has been reduced to one-third through lack of spare parts for medical equipment.
"Most other cases are being postponed, which consequently leads to complications and an increased death rate," he said.
He said the infant mortality rate had risen from 24 to 168 per 1,000 during what Iraqis call "the siege years."
Midhat accused the United States, Britain and to some extent Japan of obstructing the health part of the U.N. oil-for-food deal "for non- objective reasons sometimes and selective reasons some other times."
Under the "oil-for-food" deal, Iraq is allowed to export oil worth $2 billion every six months to buy humanitarian supplies, which should include medical needs and food.
Midhat said the United States approves sending blood units, but objects to other necessary equipment and cancelled a contract approved by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to purchase 100 much-needed ambulances.
In an effort to make up for the deteriorating medical services, the government provided citizens with special cards to be treated in public clinics.
Long lines outside the government-run pharmacies have become a daily sight, but spending hours waiting does not necessarily mean the person in line will obtain the needed medicines.
Dr. Ali Hussein, a university professor, blamed the Arab countries for the worsening living conditions.
"They are largely responsible for the sufferings of the Iraqi people as they don't provide them with what they need," Hussein said.
The moaning of patients cramming Baghdad hospitals echoed through the corridors as doctors operate without anesthetics and send them back to their wards with open wounds for lack of stitching thread.
Nearly 70 per cent of those patients die because of a severe shortage of antibiotics and serums.
Officials at Baghdad's Saddam Hospital said it is difficult to ensure required sterilization, while children in intensive care units take turns in using the oxygen masks.
"We are forced to put two and even three children in one bed," one official said.
Ali Salem, who has been in hospital for more than a year now suffering from an unknown disease, is more of a skeleton than an 11- year-old boy.
"He cannot breathe without the mask and could survive only if he is treated abroad," said his weeping mother, Fatima, who cannot afford the cost of his treatment in addition to nearly 1.5 million Iraqi Dinars ($1,000) exit tax imposed by the government to allow them to leave the country.
In a country of 22 million inhabitants and prospects of becoming the world's biggest oil reserve, Iraqis are selling their most precious possessions in auctions that have boomed under "the siege."
Iraq, which used to import products worth $20 billion a year, has been hit by inflation - the U.S. dollar reaching at one point 3,000 Iraqi dinars.
"The dollar is now 1,500 dinars which indicates an economic improvement and a decrease in inflation of 50 per cent compared to 1995, " said Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, citing government economic reforms and acceptance of the U.N. oil-for-food deal.
Saleh said the depreciation of the Iraqi currency coincided with an increase in prices by 600 per cent at a time a monthly salary did not exceed 3,500 Iraqi Dinars ($2.50).
With such a salary, a new pair of trousers at 20,000 dinars
($13) or a cheap meal in a restaurant at 3,000 dinars ($2) can be more
than mere luxuries.
Copyright 1997 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.
1. This article talks about how the United Nations (UN) imposed economic sanctions have hurt Iraq. What effect have these sanctions had on life in Iraq? (Try and write 4-5 lines for this answer.)
2. What are ‘cholera, typhoid, polio, and jaundice' ?
3. "The infant mortality rate had risen from 24 to 168 per 1,000
what Iraqis call "the siege years." In your own words, what is ‘infant mortality rate’?
4. Dr. Ali Hussein, a university professor, blames the Arab countries for the worsening living conditions. Why does he blame other Arab countries?
5. How many people live in Iraq?
6. Why has the UN imposed sanctions on Iraq? Do you agree with this policy? Do you think it achieves its purpose? (Try and write a paragraph of about 50 words for this question.)