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British Foreign Aid Chief Criticizes Coalition for Security Breakdown in Iraq - 2003-04-15

Britain's chief of foreign aid says the U.S.-led coalition has fallen down on its obligations to provide security and basic services to the people of Iraq. Before the war, British International Development Secretary Clare Short said it was reckless to go into Iraq, and now she is critical of the security breakdown that has followed the collapse of the Saddam Hussein government.

Ms. Short told a London news conference the U.S. and British militaries are obliged under international law to impose security and restore water, electricity, and health services.

"It is an absolute duty if you look under the laws of war, the Geneva Convention, the Hague regulations to provide for immediate humanitarian needs of civilians, to keep order and to keep civil administration running," she said. "And clearly there is not order. And civil administration is not running and that must be got up and running to just get basic sort of decent care for people urgently."

Ms. Short declined to discuss her actions just days before the war started, when she went on a national radio program and threatened to resign if Britain went to war without U.N. backing. She later retracted the threat, much to the dismay of the left wing of the ruling Labor party.

Ms. Short said it is time for her party and the British people to look toward Iraq's future.

"I am pleased to be a member of a party that is deeply troubled by any war, and indeed a country that is troubled by any war," she said. "But however troubled people are, the only thing for all of us to do is stand by the people of Iraq now and help them rebuild their country."

Ms. Short says part of that rebuilding process requires a vote in the U.N. Security Council, which did not sanction the war. She says that without U.N. recognition, a new Iraqi government will not be eligible for the international financing it will need.