Socialist Worker

War and saving lives do not mix

Issue No. 1770

'EVEN THE threat of military action has made the humanitarian situation worse. Military attacks on Afghanistan will make the problems worse.' That damning comment came from the director of the charity CAFOD. It exposes Bush and Blair's lies that they are waging a 'humanitarian war'. The meagre aid dropped from planes will not feed the millions of starving Afghan people.

It is simply cosmetic cover for the death and destruction heaped on Afghanistan. CAFOD is just one of the aid agencies that has ripped the mask away from the 'humanitarian war'. 'What sense is there in shooting with one hand and distributing medicines with the other?' asked a spokesman from Medecins Sans Frontieres. 'How will the Afghan population know in the future if an offer of humanitarian aid does not hide a military operation?'

Nick Guttmann of Christian Aid said, 'We don't want to be regarded as just another arm of Western policy. The perception among communities you're helping is always that you are part and parcel of the same military operation.' 'We see random food dropping as the worst possible way of delivering food aid,' said Oxfam spokesperson Alex Renton.

'Afghanistan is the world's biggest minefield. This is by no means the way to deliver food aid, and it can kill people.' An aid official based in London condemned the US and Britain linking aid to military attacks, saying, 'This is cheap and disgusting. It's the equivalent of Marie Antoinette saying, 'Let them eat cake'.'

The aid is a symbolic gesture to try to keep their coalition together, particularly in the Middle East. Yet the borders of Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are still closed to refugees, after a request from the US shortly after the World Trade Centre attacks.

Danger of drops

DURING THE Gulf War in 1991 George Bush's father and the Tory government claimed their war was partly to save the Kurds from Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The US and Britain ordered aid to be dropped from planes to the Kurds.

But in April 1991 Xavier Emanuelli, head of the medical relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, denounced plane drops as, 'useless, ineffective and dangerous'. The Independent's correspondent in the Cukurca refugee camp reported that seven Kurds had been killed in one day under falling aid crates.

Blair's fake care for Afghan women

SYRIAN WRITER Rana Kabbani has torn into Tony Blair's 'neatly timed defence of Afghan women' now that the West is bombing the country.

She recalled a former British colonial ruler in Egypt in the 19th century, Lord Cromer, and 'his sudden and mythical transformation into a feminist. 'An enthusiastic opponent of the British suffragettes, Cromer pledged to liberate the women of Egypt from the clutches of religious bigotry, at a time when he was seeking to crush an Islamist movement against British rule.'

Rana Kabbani goes on to argue how the bombing raids and demonisation of Osama Bin Laden can only fuel people's anger at the West's role in the Middle East: 'Few Muslims worldwide applaud the terror that left several hundred of their own co-religious maimed or dead, along with all the innocent others. But the vast majority of Muslims want to see the following-a Palestinian state that has East Jerusalem as its capital, an end to punitive sanctions that have killed more than a million people in Iraq, and the total removal of US military bases in the birthplace of Mohammed.'

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Sat 13 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1770
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