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Democrats seek urgent medical assistance for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1106 WEDNESDAY 1 DECEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS DEMOCRATS SEEK URGENT MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF IRAQI CITIZENS A survey of health conditions in Iraq has found a huge increase in deaths and mental and physical illness from all causes as a result of the conflict. The Australian Democrats today called on the Government to acknowledge the crisis and immediately inject additional funding into overseas aid. Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Australian Democrats today asked the Minister for Defence, Senator Hill for the Government's response to the report released today by the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW). In its 2004 survey of health in Iraq, the report estimated that 100,000 civilians have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq and the continuing conflict. The risk of violent death in the 18 months after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the 15 months before it, while the risk of death from all causes was 2.5 times higher. A report last month by Iraq's Health Ministry and the U.N. Development Program found the rate of acute malnutrition among children under 5 has almost doubled in the last two years with up to 7.7%. "Australia has a legal and ethical obligation as one of the nations who initiated this war to ensure that the health system and situation faced by the local people is improved." said Senator Bartlett. In his answer to the Democrat question, Senator Hill failed to acknowledge any Australian obligation or participation in health restoration programs in Iraq, and instead spoke only of the effort by the international community in regard to health and education. Senator Hill just pointed to the failings in the Iraqi health system before the war, despite the report finding that the risk to Iraqis of violent death in the 18 months after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the 15 months before it, while the risk of death from all causes was 2.5 times higher. In response to a supplementary question from Senator Bartlett regarding high rates of malnutrition of children in Iraq, Senator Hill detailed criticism of the report's statistical sampling process, and said that the number of deaths is not known. "The Democrats insist that Australia has a duty to ensure devastated health services are restored. The report shows tragic effects on civilians of modern warfare, and it is imperative that the same approach of pre-emptive strikes is not taken against other nations," concluded Senator Bartlett. Media contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649