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DATE=10/17/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAQ/UNICEF (S/L) NUMBER=2-255155 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A senior U-N official has criticized continued high infant-mortality rates in Iraq, but says international sanctions imposed after the Gulf War are not solely responsible for them. The head of the U-N Children's Fund, UNICEF, made the remarks at the conclusion of a visit to Iraq, as we hear from Correspondent Scott Bobb in our Middle East Bureau in Cairo. TEXT: UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy told reporters child-mortality rates which have more than doubled after nearly a decade of sanctions against Iraq remain high. But she said U-N sanctions are not solely responsible for the increase. She noted much of the suffering of the Iraqi people is the result of two wars in which Iraq was involved since 1980, and the decline of government investment in public health. But she said the impact on children should also be taken into account when the international community considers levying sanctions against a country. Ms. Bellamy spent the past week visiting hospitals, schools and health centers in Iraq. /// REST OPT /// She said malnutrition rates have improved in the largely autonomous north, but continue to cause concern in southern and central Iraq. She urged the Iraqi government to remove infant feeding formula from its basket of monthly rations, saying it has led to a decline in breast-feeding. Ms. Bellamy's visit follows a UNICEF report, issued last August, on health conditions among Iraqi children after nearly 10-years of sanctions. The Iraqi government has praised the report, saying it supports its call for the unconditional lifting of the sanctions. The U-N Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq has said imports in the humanitarian area should not be restricted. The U-N Security Council has been debating proposals that would reduce restrictions on Iraqi imports in exchange for the return of U-N weapons monitors. The monitors withdrew from Iraq nearly one-year ago amid a rising confrontation over the weapons monitoring program. Iraq has rejected their return. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/ALW/RAE 17-Oct-1999 11:48 AM EDT (17-Oct-1999 1548 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .