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Swiss film shows effects of sanctions on Iraqi children

The film portrays the problems Iraqi children face under sanctions

(Keystone)

A Swiss film maker has produced a documentary showing how Iraqi children are suffering under UN sanctions. The film was partly made with government money, even though Switzerland follows the UN embargo.

The film, which is expected to come out later this month, was co-produced by Swiss-Italian television and the government's Development Agency.

It was shot during a 10-day visit to Baghdad last month by Ticino-based Gianni Padlina. Given the working title, "Why", it documents the problems faced by one Iraqi child in a single day.

Padlina says he was asked to make the film by the head of the Development Agency, Walter Fust. The government body contributed SFr70,000 ($40,000) towards the venture.

The film includes an interview with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, and features the former United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck.

The opening sequence takes place inside Saddam Hospital, where a mother is waiting to find out if her son, who suffers from leukaemia, can be treated. According to Padlina, the shortage of medicines means the doctor is forced to choose which children to treat.

"It ends with a close-up of the face of the despairing mother as she is told that her son can't be saved," Padlina says.

Critics fear the film is too sympathetic to the regime of Saddam Hussein, and could be used for propaganda purposes by Baghdad.

It has not yet been screened in public, and the Development Agency says it is waiting to see the film itself before deciding whether it should be broadcast.

swissinfo with agencies

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