HL Deb 07 December 1994 vol 559 cc934-44

3.40 p.m.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement on Bosnia which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"The situation on the ground deteriorated over the last month. Around the Bihac pocket, Bosnian Government forces launched an attack but were then forced back by the Bosnian Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs, with support from Croatian Serb forces and rebel Bosnian Moslems, have taken the fighting into the United Nations safe area. The contravention of Security Council resolutions led the commanders of the UN force and NATO to call for and carry out air strikes to deter attacks against the safe area.

"The fighting has also intensified in central Bosnia with Bosnian Government forces making gains against the Bosnian Serbs. In the safe areas of Sarajevo, Gorazde and Srebrenica the civilian populations and the UN contingents are short of supplies as convoys have been held up. Over 400 UN troops had their movements limited by the Bosnian Serbs. Some were effectively held hostage.

"That was the situation which faced the ministerial meeting of the Contact Group on 2nd December. The Contact Group countries—Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States—united in calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Bihac pocket, including the withdrawal of Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb forces from the safe area. We also called for talks to begin on a comprehensive agreement to cease hostilities throughout Bosnia. The Contact Group supported UNPROFOR's mission and demanded immediate freedom of movement for UNPROFOR and for humanitarian supplies throughout the country. Only once these steps have been taken and the Bosnian Serbs have accepted the Contact Group plan as the basis for a settlement can negotiations continue.

"The Contact Group reaffirmed the plan adopted last July. Under this plan the integrity of Bosnia-Hercegovina would be preserved. The Bosnian Serbs would hold 49 per cent. of the territory, the Bosnian Federation of Croats and Moslems 51 per cent. We reiterated that the territorial proposal—that is, the map of the 51 per cent. and 49 per cent.—can be adjusted by mutual agreement between the parties. Constitutional arrangements agreeable to the parties will also need to be drawn up which preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Hercegovina and allow equitable and balanced arrangements for the Bosnian-Croat Federation and the Bosnian-Serb entity. The Contact Group agreed that its officials would help the parties reach a settlement on these issues. We did not discuss the lifting of the arms embargo or any change in the arrangements for the use of NATO airpower in support of the UN.

"The purpose of the Contact Group meeting was to help relaunch the political process following agreement, which we hope will come soon, on a ceasefire.

"To carry this forward, I travelled to Belgrade with my French colleague, M. Juppé, for talks with President Milosevic. Mr. Milosevic welcomed the clarifications we were able to provide. He said that they would help him to put again to the Bosnian Serb Assembly the case for accepting the peace plan. The next day over 20 members—more than a quarter of the Bosnian Serb Assembly—saw Mr. Milosevic in Belgrade. They issued a statement saying that in the light of the clarifications made to the Contact Group plan, the Pale Assembly should consider accepting it and entering negotiations on the map and the constitution to reach a final settlement. This is an encouraging step forward, but not enough. The Bosnian Serb leadership has yet to accept the plan.

"At the summit of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and I attended in Budapest on 5th and 6th December, I met President Izetbegovic of Bosnia, President Tudjman of Croatia and the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and NATO.

"The three presidents—Milosevic, Izetbegovic and Tudjman —all support the Contact Group plan for Bosnia and the continued presence of the UN force. They are all willing in principle to agree to a ceasefire throughout Bosnia, as are the Bosnian Serbs, though there remains a disagreement over its duration. We hope that the UN special representative, Mr. Akashi, will be able to make progress on a ceasefire this week.

"The British Government want the UN force to be able to continue its mission and the British contingent to continue to play a major part. But we must be clear about its role. It is not there to impose solutions on unwilling parties. It cannot fight on one side. It does not defend one army's territory against the attacks of another. It is there to support the impressive aid effort, much of it British, delivered by ODA teams, to buttress ceasefires where they exist and, within its limitations, to underpin the safe areas and exclusion zones designated by the United Nations and NATO.

"Withdrawal would be a difficult operation in itself. The consequences for the civilians whom the force are there to protect would be severe. But UNPROFOR can only continue its mission if it can do so without unacceptable risk and if it can continue to fulfil its mandate. As with all military operations, planning is in hand to cover a variety of eventualities, including withdrawal. These are constantly updated. The Government are not considering unilateral withdrawal of the British contingent. We are working with our partners in NATO and the United Nations.

"The Government's preferred way forward is clear: first, a ceasefire in the Bihac safe area and throughout Bosnia; secondly, agreement on the free movement of UNPROFOR and for aid convoys; thirdly, resumption of urgent negotiations for a peace settlement on the basis of the Contact Group plan; and, fourthly, once agreement has been reached, withdrawal by the Bosnian Serbs from the land they hold to the new lines agreed.

"Before I end, I should also record welcome progress between the Croatian Government and the Croatian Serbs. Last week they signed an economic agreement which provides for the resumption of oil, water and electricity links between the Serb held areas of Croatia and the rest of the country and for re-opening the highway between Zagreb and Belgrade. I pay tribute to the months of patient and persistent diplomacy by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Stoltenberg which was needed to achieve this. I hope the agreement can be implemented soon. It improves the prospects for negotiations leading to a lasting political settlement in Croatia and for normalisation of ties between Croatia and Serbia."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. I welcome the progress that has been made in negotiating at least a modicum of agreement between the Croatian Government and the Croatian Serbs. I share with the Minister our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Stoltenberg for their work in achieving that. I also welcome the decision to maintain British troops as part of the UN forces in Bosnia. While lives continue to be saved and while humanitarian aid is provided as a direct result of the presence of UN troops in Bosnia, we on this side of the House hope that members of the British Armed Forces will continue to be part of that presence.

There has been in the press a great deal of loose talk about the withdrawal of our troops without sufficient consideration of the effects on the Bosnian civilian community. Many more lives would be at risk if UN troops, among whom British troops play such a crucial part, were to be withdrawn. We also accept, as the Statement makes absolutely clear, that the role of British troops is not to fight on one side or the other or to defend one army's territory against another. We agree that, provided that their future safety is not seriously threatened, they are there to monitor the cease-fire and to ensure that UN resolutions on the exclusion areas and the safe havens are implemented. However, what has happened in Bihac during the past couple of weeks has shown only too clearly that, as we predicted, the safe haven policy has not worked and it is still not working.

Will the Minister tell the House how the United Nations and NATO intend to ensure that what happened in Bihac during the past two or three weeks is not repeated elsewhere in the near future? Will she also tell the House what steps will be taken to stop other Bosnian Serbs taking more UN troops hostage? Surely it is totally unacceptable that Bosnian Serbs, with the support of rebel Bosnian Moslems and Croatian Serbs, should have mounted an attack on one of the designated safe havens. That attack had considerable success and led to 400 United Nations troops being denied basic supplies and the ability to move freely.

It is not clear what political steps are being taken to deal with that in the ongoing negotiations with the Bosnian Serbs. Does the Minister agree that in such circumstances it is entirely wrong to make concessions to the Bosnian Serbs? In offering an association between the Bosnian Serbs and the state of Serbia, is not the international community making just such a concession? Moreover, will not this concession jeopardise the long-term independence of Bosnia and the future of the Bosnian Moslem community.

The Statement indicates that at the recent meeting of the Contact Group there was no discussion on the lifting of the arms embargo. Will the Minister confirm that there are to be no further changes to the current position on the arms embargo? Does she agree that to provide American, British or French arms to the Bosnian Moslems at this delicate stage will serve only to inflame the military situation and to damage progress towards a political settlement?

The Statement strikes a note of optimism about the Contact Group's planned basis for a settlement which is difficult to share. The Minister has given no assessment of the chances of the Bosnian Serb leadership accepting it after the Minister's right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and the French Minister for Foreign Affairs visited Belgrade. Perhaps she is now able to give such an assessment.

I wish to pay tribute again to the brave and courageous role played by our troops in Bosnia. As I said earlier, they have saved many lives. We hope that the international community will be more successful in obtaining the political settlement which will allow the troops to return home safely as soon as possible.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

My Lords, I join the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, in thanking the Minister for repeating the Statement. I, too, pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Stoltenberg for the patient efforts that they have made on the Croatian Serbian front. Useful progress has been made and we hope that that will contribute to a wider settlement.

The Statement is one of some gravity. The situation has deteriorated and the implications of a further deterioration are serious indeed. Against that background, we wish to pay tribute to the patience and persistence of the Foreign Secretary and his efforts to try to arrest that deterioration. Clearly, the first step is to try to bring about a cease-fire in the Bihac area. We would be grateful for any further information that the Minister can give us on that matter.

I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, that what happened in Bihac was an ominous event as regards the possibility of the same deterioration taking place in other safe havens. We would all like to know what steps the Government believe can be taken by the Contact Group, the NATO forces and the United Nations to try to prevent that possibility. It is unacceptable that 400 United Nations soldiers should, in effect, be turned into hostages.

Finally, we welcome the statement that the Government are not contemplating any unilateral withdrawal of the British contribution to the United Nations contingent and that they are dealing with the problems collectively with our colleagues and allies. At the same time, all our thoughts are with the British Armed Forces and civilian aid workers in Bosnia. They are doing fine work in terms of humanitarian aid in alleviating suffering. I too pay tribute to the role that they are undertaking in Bosnia, but we need every possible reassurance that their safety and security is paramount in the mind of Her Majesty's Government.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, for the tributes that they paid not only to the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Stoltenberg but also to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. I assure your Lordships that the British Government—and, I believe, the French Government, too—will not cease in their efforts to stop the extension of the terrible situation that we have seen in Bihac. We will use every means at our disposal to stop its spread.

Of course, the spread can best be stopped by the agreement that President Milosevic is seeking with some members of the Bosnian Serb Parliament. I mentioned in the Statement that more than 20 members had issued a statement and we believe that there may be more. There is a total of 83 members of that Bosnian Serb Parliament in Pale. The majority would have to be convinced to achieve acceptance of that plan. That is quite clearly what everyone hopes will happen because only when there has been an acceptance of the Contact Group plan can we begin to see the beginning of real progress.

The noble Baroness said that safe havens are not working. She knows that if you do not give support to the implementation of safe havens it is very difficult for the safe areas to work in the way that was first envisaged. Although Britain has more than played her part as one of the main force contributors among the 39,000 or so troops who are there, there are countries which have not played a role in UNPROFOR. From what I have seen on the ground, I am firmly convinced that you can make safe havens really safe only when you have people on the ground so to do.

The noble Baroness asked how we could prevent the Bihac tragedy being repeated elsewhere and how we could stop Bosnian Serbs taking servicemen and, indeed, others hostage while making no concessions. A very active role is being played not only by Mr. Akashi who secured the release of 160 troops last week, 60 of whom were British, but also work is going on to secure the release of the other 350 UNPROFOR troops from France, Russia, the Ukraine and Canada and the UNMOs who are being held to ransom. That can be done only through patient negotiation and not through concessions because they would indeed jeopardise the future.

I assure your Lordships that there are no changes with regard to lifting the arms embargo. Although it was not discussed at the meeting none of the members of the Contact Group, with the exception of certain members of Congress in the United States, is envisaging a lifting of the embargo. I believe that that is absolutely right because putting more arms into an already febrile situation would do nothing to help the people of Bosnia.

I close by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, for the tribute that he paid to the aid workers. There are many from non-governmental organisations as well as our own ODA personnel who are there on the ground. If they cannot get into one area, they will deliver to another area. They are keeping men, women and children alive and giving them some hope for the future. Without UNPROFOR and without the aid workers, that simply could not have happened.

4.2 p.m.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, perhaps I may ask my noble friend about the assembly at Pale. She gave us the interesting information that some 20 out of 83 members went to Belgrade and issued a statement. Do we know when the assembly will meet and when it will reach a decision? Do we know whether the Russians are actively helping to encourage those members of the assembly to agree to peace?

In addition, will the Minister say something about the unhappy plight, which we read about, of the Bangladeshi troops. Apparently they have one rifle to five men and are shivering in an unfamiliar climate.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his questions. The answer to his first question is that I cannot give him any more detail about when the discussion will take place in Pale. We believe that the Russians are helping but I am not privy to exactly how that is being done, so cannot pass on that information to my noble friend.

My noble friend asked about the 1,400 brave Bangladeshi troops. They are in the Bihac pocket. I am glad to say that a convoy of rations and fuel arrived for them on 4th December. They are doing a very valuable job under the most difficult conditions. There are a number of problems for them in the area but we are quite determined that they, as well as the ordinary people in Bihac who are suffering too, should have supplies. I assure my noble friend that we shall play a full role in helping to ensure that they are so supplied.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, one of the most, helpful aspects of the Statement and the recent developments in Yugoslavia has been the role of Mr. Milosevic. He has supported and endorsed the Contact Group's plan, despite the hostility of many of his fellow Serbs. As a result of that, there has been some relaxation of the severe sanctions—the opening of the airport and the resumption of cultural activities, including football matches, is now permitted. However, most pressing of all is the need for medical supplies. I was recently in Belgrade and I visited hospitals in which doctors had to make a decision on which child to save because they had supplies for only one. Will the Minister give me an assurance—and it would be a useful gesture in the light of the role of Mr. Milosevic—that the question of sanctions as applied to medical supplies might be reviewed?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, we have made it clear that medical supplies are certainly to be sent and they are not caught by the sanctions provisions. It is true that doctors have to make difficult decisions in any country where there is war and conflict. But there is no way in which we stand in the way of medical supplies. Medical supplies are indeed going into Belgrade and some are travelling on from Belgrade with the convoys into some of the areas to the east of Bosnia-Hercegovina where there is much need.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that we all hope that the present proposals referred to in the Statement will bring about a satisfactory result? But is there not some risk in stating categorically that British troops should not be removed, because uncertainty with regard to the possibility of that happening may have played some part in creating an atmosphere among people who at present are intransigent on meeting any reasonable request?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for allowing me to make clear once again, as I did in repeating the Statement, that British troops, or indeed UNPROFOR as a whole, can continue their mission only if they can do so without unacceptable risk and if they continue to fulfil their mandate. That is why we have made contingency plans for a withdrawal, if that had to happen. We hope sincerely that it will not because the troops are carrying out a most valuable role. But we have never said that we shall not withdraw them if they faced an unacceptable risk or if they could not continue to fulfil their mandate.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, is it not true that the whole treatment of this crisis has been an absolute disgrace to Western Europe and to the countries of the United Nations? Is it not a fact that the Serbs have played up Western Europe and NATO in the most disgraceful manner and that we have retreated from saying that no territory conquered by force would be held but are now proposing to let the Serbs get away with the vast majority of their conquests?

Is it not a fact that we have threatened force with overwhelming air power at our disposal but failed to use it? Is not what is happening today similar to what happened to the League of Nations? The UN resolve and the political will of the governments of Europe is at such a low ebb that we shall probably go on to further disasters because potential aggressors in their own territory will know that the governments of Western Europe will never use force to stop them?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, the mandate does not entitle UNPROFOR or NATO to use force to stop one party against another. The mandate is absolutely clear. I believe that the noble Lord was most unfair in what he said. It is very easy to be an armchair critic of this highly complicated situation. It is not simple because one is not even talking—for example, in the Bihac pocket—of Bosnian Serbs fighting Bosnian Moslems; one is talking of a third group, a breakaway group, and of the complexities of the Serbs in Krajina. Indeed, the situation is continually changing. That does not make it easy to carry through the mandate in the first place.

Secondly, in no way have the Contact Group or the allies been giving in to the Serbs in the way implied by the noble Lord. There simply is no alternative to the Contact Group plan. That is why the role that Mr. Milosevic has begun to play is so important. I can say that we are certainly encouraged by the statement from the Bosnian Serb Assembly delegation supporting the Contact Group plan. It remains to be seen whether that view will be acceptable in Pale and acceptable to a larger number of the Bosnian Serb Assembly. However, that does not alter the fact that the Bosnian Serb leadership knows that it cannot return to normality until the war ends. That is why we are working so hard for a peace settlement.

I should point out to the noble Lord that anyone who had read the detail of the discussions which my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and Alain Juppé, and others, have had over the past five days, could not put the questions that he has just put to me.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, will the Minister accept my great satisfaction that she dealt as firmly as she did with what I thought was the grossly oversimplified interpretation of the situation presented by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie? Looking especially at the role of the UN, with which I obviously have a particular interest as an officer of the United Nations Association, perhaps I may say how glad I am that the Minister referred to the task carried out by Mr. Akashi who has absolutely, and with persistence, sought to find a way through a very complicated situation.

Bearing in mind the Minister's words about the possibility of imposing solutions on unwilling partners—a statement which seems to me to be absolutely accurate—can she confirm that the UN is not there in order to fight a war but to do what it can mainly by humanitarian means? Will the Minister condemn some of the statements made in the newspapers, which rather reflect what the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, said, suggesting that, somehow or other, it showed a failure of an organisation; namely, the United Nations or, for that matter, NATO? Such organisations simply cannot force people to do what they are not willing to do.

As regards the treatment of the Bangladeshi forces of UNPROFOR, will the Minister openly condemn the quite appalling behaviour of the Bosnian Serbs in treating them as hostages when, under very difficult circumstances, they have been acting in the name and in the duty of the United Nations?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, it is quite right that the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, should also pay tribute to Mr. Akashi who has a nearly impossible task. He has been at the forefront of seeking the release of those troops detained by the Bosnian Serb army. As I said, his intervention on behalf of Dutch and British troops has already been successful. We hope that he will very soon be successful in securing the release of others.

Of course we unequivocally condemn the holding of all military personnel or civilians by the Bosnian Serbs. That goes back to the situation nearly two years ago when we went in to try to help. There is absolutely no question that the Bangladeshi battalion has carried out a very valuable job. Indeed, those troops have worked under very difficult conditions in an area of former Yugoslavia, which is very difficult to police because of its sheer terrain. But in addition, I should stress that all that is the art of the possible. That is why the work that is carried out on the ground, whether by the commander of UNPROFOR, General Sir Michael Rose, or by Mr. Akashi, needs to be viewed with great care.

There are far too many armchair critics in this country who think that they know best. As for some of the attacks in the media and by certain other people on General Sir Michael Rose, I have been appalled by what I have read. It is so far from the truth that it defies reason. Perhaps I may join the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and repeat something that I said in a debate in the House on Monday. Where people are determined to go on fighting, it is very difficult to stop them until there is a break in that determination. What we hope we are seeing in the Bosnian Serb Assembly is a willingness to bring the fighting to an end and let the negotiation and the peace process really begin again.

Lord Monson

My Lords, in her reply to the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, the Minister expressed the belief that Russia was being helpful. However, does the noble Baroness agree that the Russian veto of a recent resolution condemning Bosnian-Serb aggression is an ominous sign? Does it not appear to indicate that Russia is now taking a blatantly partisan approach to the conflict and that it is effectively condoning Bosnian-Serb aggression?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, it is very easy to believe that the use of the veto by the Russians indicates such a mood. One fact that is quite clear is that the Russians are asking for much earlier consultation about events and about planning. We have taken that very much on board. I told my noble friend that, while we believe the Russians were being helpful in some ways, I could not go into the detail of how they were acting.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister tell us whether supplies have been getting through to the troops in Sarajevo? Perhaps I may also reiterate what has been said by noble Lords on all sides of the House; namely, how very proud and grateful we are of our British forces in the United Nations. While we are going about our normal business at this time of the year, buying turkeys and tangerines, we are thinking a great deal about those who are not able to do so.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, supplies do get through, but we had to suspend the airlift into Sarajevo on 21st November because neither party would guarantee the security of the aircraft. That remains the case today. I hope that we shall be able to secure guarantees from the parties; indeed, UNPROFOR and UNHCR are seeking to do so at this very moment. The United Kingdom provides some 20 per cent. of the airlift capacity into Sarajevo. UK aircraft run by my department and the Royal Air Force remain committed to the operation. We are at least in a situation at present where there are some supplies available. While the critical state of supplies varies from area to area, we believe that we shall get further resupply for the population across the country. The most urgent area is probably Sebrenica. However, our troops are not in danger at the moment.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, will the Government find a suitable opportunity to remind the Russians that the Croatians and the Bosnian Moslems are just as much Slays as their Serb cousins and that a substantial proportion even of the Bosnian Serbs are opposed to Mr. Karadzic?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that that point has already been made. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary was able to spend quite a long while talking directly to Mr. Kozyrev and not one of those points was left out of the discussion.

Lord Whaddon

My Lords, the noble Baroness has rightly paid tribute to the constructive part played recently by President Milosevic. Perhaps I may also pay tribute to the balanced and delicate way that the Minister has acted in this most tricky situation. However, is it not most important that Britain should be seen to keep the spirit as well as the letter of any agreements that we make? Further, is the Minister aware that when the easing of flights to Belgrade was agreed in September by the United Nations, flights between Belgrade and Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam and Paris were started within 10 days but that the flights from Belgrade to London have still not been restored, or certainly had not been a week ago? This is due to difficulties arising from a whole series of technical objections, such as the fact that the Serbs were not allowed to pay for their landing fees at London Airport. Can the Minister help to overcome those technical objections so that we are seen to be keeping the spirit as well as the letter of agreements?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Whaddon, for his kind comments. I agree with him that the spirit as well as the letter of our intention should be kept. I will look into what he said about landing fees at Heathrow, but I am not aware 'of the problem as he outlined it to your Lordships. I shall write to him.

Lord Craig of Radley

My Lords, the noble Baroness said that we would use every means at our disposal in dealing with problems such as have happened recently in Bihac. Could she tell us whether General Rose is content with the level of forces which he has at his disposal and, if he is not, whether Her Majesty's Government would consider sending additional forces?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I have not for some time personally spoken to General Sir Michael Rose, but I believe that he considers that they can do a good job with the forces they have. If he had need for further forces I am sure that he would have asked my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence who has been in the area recently. I am sure that he would ask my right honourable friend Mr. Hogg and myself when we are there in the weeks to come.

Lord McNair

My Lords, may I ask the Minister for a reassurance that the more helpful attitude by Mr. Milosevic towards the plan put forward by the five nation Contact Group will not win him any concessions on the stance that the British Government are taking on the situation in Kosovo?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I can give the noble Lord that assurance.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, may I ask one more question? Does the noble Baroness consider that Mr. Milosevic's helpful attitude is due to his good nature or the effects of the blockade on his country?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I am quite sure that any sane man when deprived of resources starts to take notice and that is exactly why Britain was among the first to believe that we should have sanctions against Serbia, but we wait to see whether that is fully successful. However, I have said that medical supplies are a different matter from that of supplies which are caught by the sanctions.