Sanctions death toll called into question

November 24, 1993|By New York Times News Service

MIAMI -- A physicians' group that took part in a recent study of the impact of an international embargo on the people of Haiti has challenged the study's projection that the sanctions may be killing as many as 1,000 children each month.

The group, Physicians for Human Rights, said in a statement yesterday that the estimated death toll was an unreasonable extrapolation of data from a small region. The report was drawn up by the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University.

Physicians for Human Rights also criticized what it said was an excessive emphasis on recent sanctions. Too little attention was paid to broader issues of corruption, mismanagement and repression, which all contributed greatly to the increased death toll in Haiti since the military coup of September 1991, the doctors' group said.

The Harvard study's projection that about 1,000 more children are dying each month was based heavily on data from Maissade, a town where an aid group, Save the Children, has been tracking births and deaths. Before the embargo, about 3,000 Haitian infants and children died each month, the study said.

Lincoln C. Chen, the director of the center, has defended the conclusions, saying the death-toll calculation was "an order of magnitude" rather than a precise estimate. But critics of the report have challenged even this approximation.

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