Iraq's Health Ministry said that more than 10,000 Iraqis, mainly young children, died in July because of the international sanctions imposed on the country since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, reported ArabicNews.com.
"Some 7,457 Iraqi children under five years of age and 2,843 adults died in July of illnesses such as diarrhea, respiratory problems and malnutrition", the ministry said in a statement.
Iraqi Health Minister Umid Mubarak has indicated that the country's infant mortality rate has almost quadrupled since 1990, rising from 24 per thousand in 1990 to a current level of 98 per thousand.
Among children over five years old, the monthly death rate has increased to 8,600 from its 1990 level of 1,600, while the number of major surgical operations carried out monthly had fallen to 4,442 from a pre-embargo 151,525, Mubarak said.
Meanwhile, a US group visited Iraq early last month in an attempt to draw international attention to the "horrifying" plight of Iraqi children suffering because of the sanctions, said the agency.
"I was most struck about the total suffering, not only of the children dying of treatable diseases but also the suffering of doctors who know how to treat those diseases but cannot", Philip Seger, one of the group members said.
"Doctors complained they cannot treat or diagnose diseases because hospitals are deficient in every aspect as a result of the sanctions."
Physicians also say lack of food, malnutrition in pregnant mothers and insufficient medical care during pregnancy is causing malformations in newborn babies.
"Dr. Janan Ghalib, a pediatrician at the Basra General Hospital, told us that this year alone she had delivered 36 congenitally-malformed children. She showed us pictures of newborns who looked like watermelons - some had no face, just a mouth, a flap in the skull", Seger said.
UN CHIEF ACCUSED OF USING DOUBLE STANDARDS
An Iraqi newspaper accused UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Saturday of using double standards in his dealings with Israel and Iraq, which has been under a UN embargo since 1990, reported AFP.
"Why does Kofi Annan close his eyes to the machinations of the Zionist entity and its attacks on the Arab nation, and especially the Palestinian people?"
"How can the UN secretary general ignore (the embargo) and its destructive effect on the life of an entire people?" asked Babel newspaper.
The UN imposed an embargo on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The staunchest UN Security Council supporters of the embargo are the United States and Britain.
Babel called for Annan "to admit that the UN has been raped by the US administration."
As for Annan's appeal for countries in conflict to observe a truce during the Olympic Games in Sydney this month, Babel said "the UN's role is to resolve conflicts caused by US tyranny, to help suffering countries and find solutions to their problems."
Annan called Thursday for all those at war to cease fire during the Olympics, which run from September 15th to October 1st, said the agency – (Several Sources)
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