London, Dec. 27 (Reuters): War with Iraq would prompt a humanitarian disaster, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.
Speaking to BBC radio, Ruud Lubbers said the international community should make prevention of such a conflict a top priority and should encourage Arab countries to take part in the inspection of suspected weapons sites in Iraq.
“Believe me, it will be a disaster from a humanitarian perspective,” Lubbers said when asked about the prospect of a US-led attack on Iraq. “There’s even a risk if there are bacteriological and chemical weapons (in Iraq) that people there will die because of the attack.”
The US has threatened to go to war with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if Iraq cannot prove it has scrapped all its banned weapons programmes, as required by UN resolutions.
UN weapons inspectors are due to issue a final report on their findings in Iraq on Janu-ary 27.
With Iraq insisting it no longer has the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, speculation is growing the report could trigger war.
“I think such a war has to be prevented in the first place,” Lubbers told the BBC.
“We should indeed be very strict and strong on Saddam Hussein, but the ambition is to disarm him with his potential of chemical and bacteriological weapons... I would be in favour of the Arab world participating in the inspections and the conclusions,” he added.
“Only, only, when Saddam Hussein does not comply with both the inspections and the consequences of the inspections... then there can be reason for a military intervention,” Lubbers said.