According to UNICEF, in 1996 (after sanctions, but before oil-for-food), 23% of Iraqi children under five were underweight and 11% were acutely malnourished.
According to UNICEF, in 2002 (after the full impact of oil-for-food had kicked in), 9% of Iraqi children under five were underweight and 4% were acutely malnourished.
According to the UNDP, in 2004 (after the war), an unspecificed percentage of Iraqi children under five were underweight and 8% were acutely malnourished.
If you believe the relevant agencies are lying, then you should make some kind of a case to show it: you may then end up adding to the stock of human knowledge on Iraq, and possibly even reveal something useful and interesting.
If, however, you believe the agencies are retrospectively adjusting or lying about their figures to make political claims, you are more of an idiot (and possibly a liar) than Shannon Love, Tim Blair and Michael Fumento put together. And that’s one hell of an idiot.
There is one genuine ambiguity that I’ll mention now before it’s brought up, which is that a 1997 press release from UNICEF cites a 25% rate of ‘malnutrition’ in Iraqi children under five (presumably the term is being used equivalently to ‘underweight’ here, which is careless). If this were acute malnutrition, it would imply that the oil-for-food program was an even greater success than implied by the statistics above. Either way, UNICEF’s position on Iraqi child underweight and malnutrition rates immediately pre-war was made clear in 2002 by the press release above, and is entirely consistent with the most recent survey results as reported in the Washington Post.
There is also a fake ambiguity: the 25% figure from 1996 became a meme among anti-sanctions groups, and (as do many statistics) continued to circulate in a mangled format long after it became obsolete. Unfortunately, it appears to have been found by whoever wrote the Iraq summary page on UNICEF’s website.
This doesn’t make any difference to the actual numbers: a freelance web copywriter is not a qualified statistician, even if they happen to work for the same organisation. Nor does it show UNICEF to be exceptionally crap: in my professional experience, nobody who puts out a significant amount of content has ever managed entirely to avoid the peripheral-use-of-apocryphal-numbers-that-contradict-your-in-house-data problem.