Save the Children yesterday accused the US military of allowing children to die after it refused to grant permission for a plane loaded with medical supplies to land in northern Iraq. As a team of Oxfam engineers took off from Manston airport in Kent with tonnes of water sanitation equipment bound for southern Iraq, Save the Children said it had been trying for more than a week to fly in enough medical supplies to treat 40,000 people and emergency feeding kits for malnourished children.
The US military has said the charity cannot fly aid supplies into the cities of Arbil and Mosul until the area is safe. But Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children's emergency programme manager, said the UN had already declared it safe.
"The doctors we are trying to help in Mosul have been struggling against the odds for weeks ... but now the help we have promised them is being endlessly delayed," he said.
"The lack of cooperation from the US military is a breach of the Geneva convention and its protocols, but more importantly the time now being wasted is costing children their lives."
But while aid agencies described the situation in southern Iraq as "desperate", Air Marshal Brian Burridge, the commander of UK forces in the Gulf, rejected suggestions that coalition bombing had badly damaged infrastructure in Basra, insisting that electricity and water supplies were "the same" as before the war.
However, he conceded that most hospitals were short of supplies.
Charity's Anger as US Halts Aid Plane
Friday April 18, 2003