Arab-Americans Welcome Rep. Hall’s Trip to Iraq and Humanitarian
AppealWashington, D.C., April 24 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest grassroots Arab-American organization, applauds U.S. Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) and joins him in calling for a major effort to ease the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Rep. Hall toured hospitals, schools, clinics and water-treatment facilities in Iraq from April 16-20. Rep. He is the first Member of Congress to visit Iraq since the 1990.
At a Capitol Hill press conference today, Rep. Hall called for urgent steps to ease the humanitarian crisis he said he “saw with my own eyes.” Rep. Hall said that “Iraq’s people are suffering terribly, and it was heartbreaking to see their pain firsthand. I left Iraq convinced that a great deal more could be done to address its people’s humanitarian needs, and I am determined to do all I can to persuade the US government to take those steps.” Rep. Hall said that in many instances the UN Committee which oversees all imports to Iraq blocks major shipments of urgently needed supplies because of concern over a few items. He suggested the use of a “line-item” system which would allow the bulk of any given shipment to proceed to Iraq. He said that “If the UN Steering Committee’s top priority were humanitarian, as I believe it should be, there would be a way to quickly resolve many of the causes of Iraq’s difficulties.”
Rep. Hall also called for a major scientific study of the causes of the increased incidence of cancers, especially leukemia, in Iraq since the Gulf War, saying “I hope our government will support a scientific study by the World Health Organization of the effects of depleted uranium and other potential pollutants on Iraqi civilians – who are suffering very high rates of leukemia.”
70 members of Congress wrote to President Clinton on Jan. 31 expressing deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and appealing for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. On April 19, Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) and 25 members of Congress, with the backing of the American Public Health Association, sent a letter to Secretary of State Albright asking to meet with her to discuss modifying United States sanctions policy on Iraq. On March 7, ADC presented specific proposals for humanitarian relief measures in Iraq to the State Department.
ADC President Hala Maksoud said “We applaud the courageous journey and admirable moral position taken by Congressman Hall. Reaching out to the Iraqi people and acknowledging and working to alleviate their plight is the yeast for a future of understanding between the American and Iraqi peoples. Such courageous moral leadership will constitute the grounds on which reconciliation can be built.”