Caritas Internationalis Appeals for Diplomatic Solution to Iraqi Crisis

Criticizes Ineffectiveness of Sanctions Imposed on Country

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2003 ( Caritas Internationalis urged world leaders to find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis, warning of a humanitarian disaster and increased instability in the Middle East.

In a statement, the charitable organization rejected the idea of a «preventive» attack because it «would not fulfill the moral criteria that might ultimately justify the use of military force, as they are laid down in the texts of the Catholic Church (Catechism, No. 2309).»

A military initiative in Iraq could cause untold losses to the civil population, severely tried by economic sanctions, said Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 154 relief, development, and social service organizations.

According to Caritas, sanctions «are ineffective because the regime — which is the official target — is unaffected by them. They are cruel because it is the poor and vulnerable persons in the country who feel the brunt of their effects.»

«Finally,» it added, «sanctions are dangerous because they have contributed greatly to damaging the structure of Iraqi society, and given rise to strong feelings of resentment towards Western powers.»

A Caritas delegation visiting Iraq last October saw firsthand the effects of the sanctions on the population.

«Already seriously weakened, the Iraqi people would pay an exorbitant price in the event of an attack,» the statement added, issued from the Vatican headquarters. «A conflict would inevitably lead to the deaths of thousands of people, and even greater numbers would be displaced or become refugees.»

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