The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned the import of cattle from Iraq because of an epidemic of screwworm fly ravaging livestock in the sanctions-hit country, Al-Khaleej newspaper reported last week.
The decision was taken by the veterinary department of the agriculture ministry after tests carried out on some cattle imported from Iraq showed that they were infected with screwworm, the paper said.
In June 1999, the Iraqi agriculture ministry blamed UN arms inspectors — who have since left Baghdad and have not been allowed to return — for an epidemic of screwworm fly, which was affecting livestock.
The parasitic fly lays eggs on the wounds of animals. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization had warned that Iraq, under crippling sanctions since 1990, did not have the insecticides to combat the disease.
Iraq has said almost one million sheep and cattle have been killed over recent years because of a lack of vaccines due to the embargo.
The UAE, which imports about 30,000 tons of meat a year, banned last month all beef imports from the European Union, Scandinavia and eastern Europe because of fears of "mad cow" disease as well as imports of fodder from the same countries. — (AFP, Dubai)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )