Three Christian organizations that provide aid to Iraq are calling for an immediate lifting of the United Nations embargo against the nation ruled by Saddam Hussein.

The Atlanta-based Conscience International (CI) is spearheading the embargo protest. Venture Middle East and the Middle East Council of Churches have also signed a declaration demanding an end to the trade embargo.

According to the World Health Organization and other UN agencies, 1.2 million people have died from the effects of malnutrition and medical shortages in the wake of trade sanctions imposed in 1990. The infant mortality rate has doubled, and 6,000 children under the age of five die every month in Iraq. "Basra has no potable water supply and little electricity," says the city's Eastern Orthodox archbishop, Gabriel Kasab. "Epidemics rage, taking away children by the thousands. Our situation is unbearable."

A U.S. State Department official contends the Iraqi government is responsible for depriving citizens of food and medicine.

Christian relief agencies have supplied millions of dollars in medicine to Iraq. They also held workshops in Iraq in December on mother and child health.

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