Elisabeth Benjamin, founder and supervising attorney of the New York Legal Aid Society’s Health Law Unit. She has conducted health and human rights assessments to Iraq for the Harvard Study Team and International Study Team missions.
Dr. Ronald Waldman, professor of Clinical Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University. He has worked in emergencies in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Albania, Congo, and Afghanistan. Dr. Waldman is the immediate past Chairman of the International Health Section of the American Public Health Association.
Roger Normand, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, overseeing policy and directing projects in the Middle East and Central Asia. In recent years he has led humanitarian assessment missions to Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan, and engaged in public advocacy and lobbying with policy-makers in the United States and with the United Nations. He is an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.
A high level humanitarian delegation has just returned from Iraq.
The delegation from the Center for Economic and Social Rights discovered that a consortium of US non-governmental organizations based in Amman, Jordan have already received $2 million dollars from the US.
The NGOs have also been participating in simulation exercises and coordination and training activities with the Department of Defense.
Among the NGOs who received US funds: the International Rescue Committee, World Vision, Save the Children, the International Medical Corps and Mercy Corps.
An excerpt from their draft report reads: "...Several UN representatives and one NGO interviewed by the Research Team expressed the fear that the US military and/or either the Department of State or the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance will control the flow of funds to NGOs. This would result in NGOs deemed 'friendly' to the US being able to operate in Iraq, while those more critical of US policy would be disadvantaged."
The research team also compares Iraq to a refugee camp. The team found Iraq avoided nutritional catastrophe under US economic sanctions by implementing a near-universal food ration system. It is by far the largest government food distribution in the world. 16 million people are fully dependent on the food ration.
War could disrupt or destroy the food distribution system.
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