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Saddam's Iraq: Key events
Iraq under sanctions 1991 - 2002

Oil-for-food 1995 onwards Iraqi women mourning children who they say died because of sanctions
Iraqi women mourn their children
Oil-for-Food was introduced by the UN to counter the impact of economic sanctions on the people of Iraq.

The sanctions came on top of damage to the country’s infrastructure from the war and the effect has been devastating.

But it has been difficult to ascertain how much sanctions are responsible for the poverty and deprivation Iraqis have suffered since the Gulf War.

Unicef estimated in 1999 that child mortality in Iraq had doubled since before the Gulf War.

An Iraqi woman carrying her monthly food ration
Oil-for-Food has given Iraqis access to basic rations
But reports of Iraqi children dying in poorly equipped hospitals have also been manipulated to powerful effect by Saddam Hussein. It became clear that the elite had access to luxuries and Iraqi military spending remained high.

In 1991 the UN first offered to allow Iraq to sell a small amount of oil in return for humanitarian supplies. But it was not until the offer was increased to $2bn in 1995 that Saddam Hussein accepted.

The programme meant ordinary Iraqis had access to monthly basic food rations, although the first shipments of food did not arrive until March 1997.

In 1998, the co-ordinator of the programme, Denis Halliday, resigned, saying sanctions were bankrupt as a concept and damaged innocent people.

And his successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit his post in 2000, saying sanctions had created “a true human tragedy”.

In 1999 the ceiling on the amount of oil Iraq can export was completely lifted, although strict controls remain on imports of “dual use” items which could potentially be used in the manufacture of prohibited weapons.

Saddam's rise: 1957-79
Iran-Iraq war: 1980-88
Gulf War: 1991
Aftermath: From 1991
Sanctions: 1991-2002
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