UNFPA invades Iraq
By Sam Singson
The Commission for Refugee Women and Children has praised the international community for its unprecedented readiness to deal with what it calls a potential "reproductive health crisis" that the war in Iraq threatened to unleash.
A media liaison for the commission has remarked that, "Crisis preparation for the war in Iraq marked a milestone. Emergency reproductive health care supplies had been pre-positioned in the region, and for perhaps the first time, the need for training on how to use the supplies and how to incorporate reproductive health care into the initial phase of emergency response was identified before the crisis began."
By mid-July, Baghdad had received its second shipment of supplies from the United Nations Population Fund. According to the organization's press release from July 11, "A total of 648 boxes containing different types of reproductive health products were delivered to the five general health directorates. The shipment included much-needed emergency obstetric care supplies, clean delivery equipment, contraceptives, syringes, essential drugs and other medical supplies."
Unbeknownst to the Iraqi people, a second offensive on their country had begun.
The concept of UNFPA "assistance" is dubious at best. The agency has been embroiled in controversy for the last year. Until very recently, few knew the exact nature of the activities and programs it implemented or sponsored. The Virginia-based Population Research Institute, however, found damning evidence of the UNFPA's long involvement in coercive family-planning programs in countries such as China and Peru - programs that included forced abortion and forced sterilization. These findings sparked further investigations by the U.S. White House and a series of congressional hearings that eventually led to the Bush administration's decision to withhold $34 million in annual U.S. contributions to the UNFPA.
According to the UNFPA's website, the agency's mission is to help countries "address reproductive health and population issues" through the provision of programs and services. What the majority of people fail to realize is that the term "reproductive health services" is a euphemism for abortion, a point that was conceded at a late-night meeting in June 2001 by a Canadian UN delegate.
In keeping with the mandate to provide "comprehensive reproductive health care services" to women in emergency situations, the UNFPA has sent "reproductive health kits" to Iraq. In his work, The United Nations Population Fund: Assault on the World's Peoples, Douglas Sylva revealed more about these kits, which the UNFPA routinely distributes in refugee camps and sends to war-torn or disaster-ravaged countries. Sylva writes that the kits "include useful items - but they have also included emergency contraceptives, intrauterine devices, and manual vacuum aspirators."
Sylva's expose also brings to light allegations that the UNFPA exploits emergency situations to further its own population-control agenda. His work elucidates the fact that the UNFPA can push its agenda in emergencies because these are situations in which national sovereignty, government authority and legal jurisdiction are all in doubt. Thus, it is easier for the organization to introduce and offer "services" that would normally be against the law.
"In emergency situations," Sylva explains, "women are vulnerable, often displaced from their homes, communities and families. Under such circumstances, it may be easier to convince otherwise reluctant women, women from traditional cultures with traditional beliefs, to become acceptors of contraceptives and abortion."
Critics of the UNFPA assert that the organization's involvement in Iraq is not simply about humanitarian assistance, but of forcing a radical vision of "reproductive health and freedom" on unsuspecting populations. Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has weighed in on the war in Iraq with the statement, "If we are fighting for freedom in Iraq, then most surely that freedom should extend to women globally and in the United States. The most fundamental freedom is the freedom of reproductive self-determination."
It seems that the UNFPA has taken Feldt's statement to heart. It has begun its work in post-war Iraq by pushing to establish "reproductive freedom" in the country - whether Iraqi women like it or not.