Sad Christmas in Store for Iraq

Country Has Been Poisoned by Missiles, Archbishop Says

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, DEC. 18, 2000 (
The U.S.-backed economic embargo against Iraq hits a raw nerve with the auxiliary archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate.

“It is unjust. Why prohibit people from moving around freely? There was no reason whatsoever. These 10 years have been like a gravestone of mourning, tears and poverty,” says Auxiliary Archbishop Emmanuel Delly. His patriarchate embraces the largest number of Christians in Iraq.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Archbishop Delly condemned the embargo imposed on Iraq by the United States. According to UNICEF, every month malnutrition kills more than 4,500 children under the age of 5. Yet, the embargo helps secure Saddam Hussein in his post, because it enables the regime to more easily control the country´s economic, nutritional and humanitarian goods, the U.N. agency says.

–Q: The international airport has been reopened, even if it is against the terms of the embargo imposed by the U.N. This is something hopeful.

–Archbishop Delly: Of course, but we want the embargo to be totally lifted, because its effects are, and will continue to be, devastating for years. The Iraqi people are leaving the country in search of hope, and I don´t think this is right. There is no work, no money. They think that leaving is better than staying here, but this is not true.

I don´t think that living outside one´s own country is better. Many people have told me that one day in Iraq is worth 1,000 abroad because as immigrants they are always considered foreigners, obliged to travel clandestinely, work clandestinely, beg clandestinely, and always be alone, because even other brothers will not have the time to help them.

–Q: Is there an alternative?

–Archbishop Delly: Here we are all poor, but at least we help one another and then, it is clear that all the problems stem from the U.N. sanctions.

–Q: What is your appeal to the world?

–Archbishop Delly: I have said it. However, even if you write it, no one will listen. Out with the embargo! The Westerners, the Europeans are doing a lot in this respect, but they are under the pressure of the U.S. government, which is pressured by the Jews. North American people have a good heart, but the White House propaganda goes against it.

–Q: Does the United States continue to bomb your country?

–Archbishop Delly: I have no way of knowing this, but they can always do so, at any moment. It is the “polis” of the world. It depends on you. As we know, politics and its interests have no friends.

–Q: What has impressed you most over these past 10 years?

–Archbishop Delly: To discover that Iraq is sick, that it has been poisoned.

–Q: What does this mean?

–Archbishop Delly: That never before, as over these 10 years, have I realized that there are new sicknesses. Cancer brought by the missiles that fell on us. Polluted air. Before, one never heard so much news about deaths from cancer and children born with deformities, especially in the south of Iraq where, I have been told, missiles were used with depleted uranium.

–Q: What is your hope, Archbishop Delly?

–Archbishop Delly: Of course, Christian charity is the way. Love for the other and forgiveness, as Our Lord on the cross. The Holy Father is doing much for us with his prayers for peace and concord and his profound interest in this nation: These are things that give us great consolation and help.

–Q: What will your Christmas be like?

–Archbishop Delly: Simple. How could it be otherwise when a state employee, or anyone who has the good fortune to have a job, earns the equivalent of $6 a month?

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