Magazine article New Internationalist

Wilderness Voices: Sanctions Busters Are Unrepentent [American Aid Volunteers Smuggle Medicines and Toys into Iraq]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Wilderness Voices: Sanctions Busters Are Unrepentent [American Aid Volunteers Smuggle Medicines and Toys into Iraq]

Article excerpt

Wilderness voices

Sanctions busters are unrepentant

THREE American aid volunteers risked huge fines and jail sentences for breaking international sanctions when they took medicines and children's treats into Iraq this spring.

The trio, from the Chicago - based Voices in the Wilderness group, distributed approximately $60,000 worth of aid in Iraq to help relieve widespread civilian suffering.

They returned from their mercy mission to face the wrath of the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which helps enforce United Nations economic sanctions against Iraq.

OFAC has advised them that 'Criminal penalties for violating the regulations range up to 12 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Civil penalties of up to $250,000 per violation may be imposed administratively by OFAC.'

Goods taken by Kathleen Kelly, George Capaccio and Chuck Quilty included teddy bears, balloons and sweets. They also took glove puppets which they used to give shows to entertain children - many of whom were on the verge of death.

Up to 750,000 children are estimated to have died as a result of strict sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Kelly, a 44 - year - old theology graduate, recalls crying outside a US - bombed air - raid shelter in Baghdad in which hundreds of women and children had died. 'Then I felt a tiny arm at my waist and a child was smiling up at me. "Welcome," she said. Two women approached and I stammered: "Ana Amrikyaah ana asifa" (I'm American and I'm sorry). …

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