The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pacifist Paul brings Hope for Iraq

London, April 21: Sir Paul McCartney, who is one of 18 well known artists backing the sale of a fund-raising album, Hope CD, released today to help Iraqi children, has attacked the use of cluster bombs.

The former Beatle, who has been a long-standing opponent of cluster bombs and landmines, has expressed his disgust at the use of the former during the Iraq war by the British and American forces. “It would be great to outlaw these cowardly weapons,” he said.

McCartney made a live recording of Calico Skies for the album during rehearsals for his current tour. He said: “Whatever the politics, whatever the rights and wrongs of war, children are always the innocent victims. So I am delighted to be able to make this small contribution.”

Proceeds will go to the War Child, an international development and relief charity set up following the war in the former Yugoslavia. The CD also includes exclusive performances by acts, including Travis (The Beautiful Occupation), New Order (Vietnam), David Bowie (Everyone Says Hi) and George Michael (The Grave).

Cat Stevens, who is now known as Yusuf Islam, has recorded his first pop song, Peace Train, in 25 years.

The other artists include Avril Lavigne (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), Ronan Keating (In the Ghetto), Lee Ryan (Stand Up as People), Beverley Knight (Love’s in Need of Love Today), Moby (Nearer), Basement Jaxx/Yellowman (Love is the Answer), Spiritualized (Hold On), The Charlatans (We Got To Have Peace), Beth Orton (O-O-H Child), Tom McRae (Border Song) and Billy Bragg (The Wolf Covers Its Tracks).

All the artists recorded their tracks free of charge and London Records has agreed to produce and distribute the album without taking a profit.

The War Child has teams in Iraq and already started to reopen a looted orphanage in An Nasiriyah. The charity estimates that two million Iraqi children are seriously malnourished and many are “fearful, anxious and depressed”. In 1995, it recorded the album, Help, with 20 bands and artists and raised more than £1.25 million for the children of Bosnia. The charity hopes to raise £1 million this time.

McCartney called Hope CD a “magnificent project” and said he hoped it would go “a long way to alleviating some of the pain and suffering”.

Describing himself as a “pacifist”, McCartney admitted he had concerns about the way the war had been conducted. “I felt that at the UN, all agreed that Saddam should be made to disarm. They didn’t agree on how to do it. What happens after the war finishes is that it’s the civilians — mainly women and children — who get blown up. I don’t want anyone to fight anyone,” he said.

The War Child has expanded its role and has projects in many African countries, the Philippines, and the occupied Palestinian territories. Its spokesman said: “Whatever our individual views, the suffering of children is something none of us can ignore. Hope is not a political album; the plight of children transcends politics. These songs are a plea for hope, without which the children of Iraq have nothing at all.”

In the course of his radio interview today, McCartney described Michael Jackson, the subject of a controversial TV profile done by Martin Bashir, as an “unusual guy”.

“I feel sorry for the kids being brought up under those veils whereas I was keen to send my kids to ordinary school and just throw them into the lion’s den,” he remarked.

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