Violating the Geneva Conventions

The battle to save Iraq’s children: Doctors issue plea to Tony Blair to end the scandal of medical shortages in the war zone
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 19 January 2007

The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors.

They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life.

In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing “hundreds” of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs.

Here’s the rest of the article.

And here’s the full letter (source:

The Letter: ‘Sick or injured children, who could be easily treated, are left to die in hundreds’
Published: 19 January 2007

“We are concerned that children are dying in Iraq for want of medical treatment. Iraq, instead of being a country at the top of the league for medicine, as it once was, now has conditions and mortality of a Third World country.

Sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in their hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet, and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.

We understand that the UK may withdraw its forces from Iraq in 2007. Before this happens, we call on the UK Government not to walk away from this problem, but to fulfil its obligations that it entered into under Security Council Resolution 1483 during the period 22 May 2003 to 28 June 2004.

This Resolution recognised the UK and US as being occupying powers in Iraq but also stated that they had to comply with the Geneva and Hague Conventions. These Conventions specifically require the occupying powers to maintain order and to look after the medical needs of the population. This they failed to do, and the knock-on effect of this failure is affecting Iraqi children’s hospitals with increasing ferocity. We also ask the UK, as one of the Occupying Powers designated by Resolution 1483 as Trustees of “The Development Fund For Iraq,” to properly account for these assets estimated at $23bn in May 2003. It is asserted that by June 2004 some $14bn vanished in corruption, theft and payment to mercenaries.

We ask that all the revenues from Iraq’s oil now pass directly to the Iraqi people, and that illegal contracts entered into by the Coalition Provisional Authority are revoked.

Only in this way can the Iraqi people rebuild their country with its infrastructure, administration, and hospitals.”

Submitted by: Dr Chris Burns-Cox MD FRCP Consultant Physician, Gloucester Dr Heba Al-Naseri MB BS BSc Dr K Alston FFARCSI Associate Specialist in Anaesthetics at Torbay Hospital Ghada Karmi MB ChB MRCP PhD MFPHM RCP former Consultant in Public Health Medicine, North Thanes Regional Health Authority and 90 others

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