Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:52 am Post subject: Iraq Birth Deformities Soar - A War Crime
This is the sickening consequence of the use of
Uranium weapons in the course of the war in Iraq.
It will blight the civilian population for generations.
They KNEW of the consequences at the time.
In other words, this was and is a war crime.
Video: Iraqi cancer figures soar
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2009
Doctors in Iraq are recording a sharp rise in the number of cancer victims south of Baghdad. Sufferers in the province of Babil have risen almost tenfold in just three years.
Locals blame depleted uranium from US military equipment used in the 2003 invasion. Some 500 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2004 alone. That figure rose to almost 1,000 two years later.
In 2008, the number of cases increased sevenfold to 7,000 diagnoses. This year, there have so far been more than 9,000 new cases, and the number is rising.
Mosab Jasim reports that Iraqi researchers believe radiation is responsible for the increase in cancer and birth defects in the country, but he says the US and British militaries have sent mixed signals about the effects of depleted uranium.
However, Christopher Busby, a British scientist and activist who has carried out research into the risks of radioactive pollution, said there is proof of a definitive link between cancer and depleted uranium.
"I made this link to a coroner's inquest in the West Midlands into the death of a Gulf War One veteran ... and a coroner's jury accepted my evidence," he told Al Jazeera.
"It's been found by a coroner's court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium.
"In the last ten years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars."
Fatima Ahmed was born in Fallujah with deformities that include two heads
H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki
President of the Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, NY 10017
October 12th 2009
RE DEFORMED BABIES IN FALLUJAH
Young women in Fallujah in Iraq are terrified of having children because of the increasing number of babies born grotesquely deformed, with no heads, two heads, a single eye in their foreheads, scaly bodies or missing limbs. In addition, young children in Fallujah are now experiencing hideous cancers and leukaemias.
These deformities are now well documented, for example in television documentaries on SKY UK on September 1 2009, and on SKY UK June 2008. Our direct contact with doctors in Fallujah report that:
In September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 new born babies, 24% of whom were dead within the first seven days, a staggering 75% of the dead babies were classified as deformed.
This can be compared with data from the month of August in 2002 where there were 530 new born babies of whom six were dead within the first seven days and only one birth defect was reported.
Doctors in Fallujah have specifically pointed out that not only are they witnessing unprecedented numbers of birth defects but premature births have also considerably increased after 2003. But what is more alarming is that doctors in Fallujah have said, "a significant number of babies that do survive begin to develop severe disabilities at a later stage".
As one of a number of doctors, scientists and those with deep concern for Iraq, Dr Chris Burns-Cox, a British hospital physician, wrote a letter to the Rt. Hon. Clare Short, M.P. asking about this situation. She wrote a letter to the Rt. Hon.Douglas Alexander, M.P. the Secretary of State of the Department for International Development (a post she had held before she resigned on a matter of principle in May 2003 ) asking for clarification of the position of deformed children in Fallujah.
She received a reply dated 3rd September 2009 (two days after the Sky TV broadcast of 1st September 2009 ) from a junior minister, deputy to The Secretary of State, Mr. Gareth Thomas MP, Duty Minister, Department for International Development. In his reply he denies that there are more than two or three deformed babies in Fallujah in a year and asserts that there is, therefore, no problem. This is at wild variance with reports coming out of Fallujah. One grave digger of a single cemetery is burying four to five babies a day, most of which he says are deformed.
Clare Short passed us a copy of this letter. It bears a remarkable similarity to three other written answers we have received over a four year period, in regard to child health and the use of depleted uranium. All these letters are based on lies and an aim to confuse the recipients. In her autobiography "Honorable Deception?" Clare Short says "The first instinct of Number 10 (Downing Street) is to lie."
We regard the mendacity of Mr. Thomas's letter, and of the other letters we have received, as extremely serious. These letters do not deal with minor matters of corruption, or taxes, but do deal with the use of armed forces and deadly weapons.
The use of certain weapons has tremendous repercussions. Iraq will become a country, if it has not already done so, where it is advisable not to have children. Other countries will watch what has happened in Iraq, and imitate the Coalition Allies' total disregard of the United Nations Charter, The Geneva, and Hague Conventions, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Some countries, such as Afghanistan, will also come to experience the very long term damage to the environment, measured in billions of years, and the devastating effect of depleted uranium and white phosphorous munitions.
If, as we say in our letter to the Duty Minister of the Department for International Development, the UK Government clearly does not know the effects of the weapons it uses, nor, as a matter of policy, does "it do body counts", how can the UK Government judge whether it is conducting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan according to International Law, especially in terms of "proportionality" and long term damage to the natural environment? How can the UK know about the illegality of the weapons systems it sells on the international market, such as the "Storm Shadow" missile, if the very Department of the Government that is supposed to assess the deaths and medical needs of children and adults in Iraq is not telling the truth.
We request from the United Nations General Assembly the following:
1. To acknowledge that there is a serious problem regarding the unprecedented number of birth defects and cancer cases in Iraq specifically in Fallujah, Basra, Baghdad and Al - Najaf.
2. To set up an independent committee to conduct a full investigation into the problem of the increased number of birth defects and cancers in Iraq.
3. To implement the cleaning up of toxic materials used by the occupying forces including Depleted Uranium, and White Phosphorus.
4. To prevent children and adults entering contaminated areas to minimize exposure to these hazards.
5. To investigate whether war crimes, or crimes against humanity, have been committed, and thereby uphold the United Nations Charter, The Geneva and Hague Conventions, and The Rome Statute of The International Criminal Court.
Please find enclosed a copy of our letter to Mr Gareth Thomas, dated 12th October 2009, and his letter to The Rt Hon Clare Short, M.P. dated 3rd September 2009, and enclosures relating to this matter.
Dr Nawal Majeed Al-Sammarai ( Iraq Minister of Women's Affairs 2006 -2009)
Dr. David Halpin FRCS (Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon)
Malak Hamdan M. Eng in Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.
Dr Chris Burns-Cox MD FRCP
Dr. Haithem Alshaibani (Environmental Sciences)
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Author and Journalist)
Nicholas Wood MA, RIBA, FRGS
Enclosures to follow by surface mail:
1: Copy of Sky Television Documentary 1 September 2009 "The Deformed Babies of Fallujah":
2: Copy of Sky Television Documentary June 2008 "The Deformed Babies of Fallujah".
3: Frieder Wagners's film "Deadly Desert Dust" 2006.
4: Report by doctors in Fallujah 4 March 2008 " Prohibited Weapons Crisis"
5: Film the "Dying children of Iraq",compiled by Nicholas Wood.
6: US Army briefing on the use of White Phosphorous in Fallujah on "Shake and Bake Missions"
7: Report "Who Can Forgive the Crime of using Depleted Uranium Against Iraq and Humanity" by Dr Haithem Alshaibani, September 2009 .
8: Written Answer by Mr Hilary Benn, Secretary of State, Department for International Development to Parliamentary Question. 10 March 2005.
9: Letter by Mr Hilary Benn, Secretary of State, Department for International Development to The Independent, 20 January 2007, in reply to the 98 Doctors' letter to the Prime Minister.
10:Letter by Rt.Hon. Des Browne, M.P. UK Former Minister of Defence to Rt. Hon. Tony Benn, November 2008
11: Black Country Coroner's District ( Sandwell, Dudley.and Walsall: ) Coroner's Report into death of Stuart Raymond Dyson. 18 September 2009.
12: Calculations of expected child abnormalities in a city the size of Cardiff or Fallujah using UK statistics , David Halpin FRCS
Letter from Mr Gareth Thomas M.P. Duty Minister, Department for International Development, 3 September 2009 to Rt. Hon. Clare Short M.P.
Back in 2003, I wrote:
A Crime Against Humanity
17th March, 2003 by Fintan Dunne
What if they announced the inevitable deaths from depleted uranium
weapons at the actual time of war?
Nightly News might go like this:
"Coalition forces today captured a key enemy stronghold. Thirty enemy combatants were killed and 150 babies horribly malformed. President Bush says it proves that US strategy is working. In a statement, Mr. Bush said that only 75,000 more deformed babies could secure the capital for the US. Ed Carnage reports from Washington..."
Depleted uranium is the US empire's weapon of choice. But the word 'depleted' is a public relations spin. It makes it sound like the nuclear material is worn out.
It's not. It's Uranium.
So, let's just call it Uranium. It's a nuclear warhead of solid uranium 238 in a bullet or a shell. It minimizes wartime casualties among US forces. Casualties that would be hard to sell to domestic opinion. Instead, the military casualties are transferred to the future --as deaths of US military forces from uranium exposure.
Civilians will die too from these toxic effects. For years to come the Uranium Babies of toxic Kosovo, or Iraq will die from it --whatever its name.
In Yugoslavia after the NATO war, as in Iraq after the last Gulf war, uranium dioxide dust now contaminates the environment. The future casualties of modern US warfare are unborn babies, civilians and the US military forces who wield the weapons.
The Uranium Babies will be with us for a very long time. For countless years to come, Iraq, Kosovo and indeed the uranium test firing ranges in the USA, will be lands of poison harvest. So will all war theaters of this slow, hidden nuclear holocaust.
but for any kind of resettlement do they not have to break and destroy the indigenous population first?
And lets face it,
was it not Rumsfeld and CIA who started and ran the Iran/Iraq war by proxy via Saddamm -
Then Add desert storm,
a decade of Sanctions,
the present invasion/occupation
and now this depleted uranium etc
All in all how many million's of Iraqi's have the west slaughtered
President Barack Obama vows the United States still plans to have all American combat troops out of Iraq by next August.
After a meeting Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama also said he was watching closely for the parliament to pass an election law that would set out the legal structure for a critical nationwide vote in January. Al-Maliki also heard that message in meetings a day earlier with Vice President Joe Biden.
As Obama promised to hold to U.S. withdrawal plans, which would see all troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011,
Obama also told al-Maliki that he was glad the two leaders were able to expand their talks beyond warfare to the "enormous opportunities for our two countries" to have a flourishing commercial relationship. _________________ Birth is the first example of " thinking outside the box"
Sky News covered it first, (See above) now here's another
news feature on the huge spike in abnormal births in Iraq
from the London Guardian. But, unlike Sky, the Guardian
does not specifically mention Depleted Uranium.
Iraqi former battle zone sees abnormal clusters
of infant tumours and deformities
Martin Chulov in Falluja - guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 November 2009 19.24 GMT
Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.
The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja's over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.
Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable.
A group of Iraqi and British officials, including the former Iraqi minister for women's affairs, Dr Nawal Majeed a-Sammarai, and the British doctors David Halpin and Chris Burns-Cox, have petitioned the UN general assembly to ask that an independent committee fully investigate the defects and help clean up toxic materials left over decades of war – including the six years since Saddam Hussein was ousted.
"We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies," said Falluja general hospital's director and senior specialist, Dr Ayman Qais. "Before 2003 [the start of the war] I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically."
The rise in frequency is stark – from two admissions a fortnight a year ago to two a day now. "Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs," he said. "There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of less than two years [old] with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours."
After several years of speculation and anecdotal evidence, a picture of a highly disturbing phenomenon in one of Iraq's most battered areas has now taken shape. Previously all miscarried babies, including those with birth defects or infants who were not given ongoing care, were not listed as abnormal cases.
The Guardian asked a paediatrician, Samira Abdul Ghani, to keep precise records over a three-week period. Her records reveal that 37 babies with anomalies, many of them neural tube defects, were born during that period at Falluja general hospital alone.
Dr Bassam Allah, the head of the hospital's children's ward, this week urged international experts to take soil samples across Falluja and for scientists to mount an investigation into the causes of so many ailments, most of which he said had been "acquired" by mothers before or during pregnancy.
Other health officials are also starting to focus on possible reasons, chief among them potential chemical or radiation poisonings. Abnormal clusters of infant tumours have also been repeatedly cited in Basra and Najaf – areas that have in the past also been intense battle zones where modern munitions have been heavily used.
Falluja's frontline doctors are reluctant to draw a direct link with the fighting. They instead cite multiple factors that could be contributors.
"These include air pollution, radiation, chemicals, drug use during pregnancy, malnutrition, or the psychological status of the mother," said Dr Qais. "We simply don't have the answers yet."
The anomalies are evident all through Falluja's newly opened general hospital and in centres for disabled people across the city. On 2 November alone, there were four cases of neuro-tube defects in the neo-natal ward and several more were in the intensive care ward and an outpatient clinic.
Falluja was the scene of the only two setpiece battles that followed the US-led invasion. Twice in 2004, US marines and infantry units were engaged in heavy fighting with Sunni militia groups who had aligned with former Ba'athists and Iraqi army elements.
The first battle was fought to find those responsible for the deaths of four Blackwater private security contractors working for the US. The city was bombarded heavily by American artillery and fighter jets. Controversial weaponry was used, including white phosphorus, which the US government admitted deploying.
Statistics on infant tumours are not considered as reliable as new data about nervous system anomalies, which are usually evident immediately after birth. Dr Abdul Wahid Salah, a neurosurgeon, said: "With neuro-tube defects, their heads are often larger than normal, they can have deficiencies in hearts and eyes and their lower limbs are often listless. There has been no orderly registration here in the period after the war and we have suffered from that. But [in relation to the rise in tumours] I can say with certainty that we have noticed a sharp rise in malignancy of the blood and this is not a congenital anomaly – it is an acquired disease."
Despite fully funding the construction of the new hospital, a well-equipped facility that opened in August, Iraq's health ministry remains largely disfunctional and unable to co-ordinate a response to the city's pressing needs.
The government's lack of capacity has led Falluja officials, who have historically been wary of foreign intervention, to ask for help from the international community. "Even in the scientific field, there has been a reluctance to reach out to the exterior countries," said Dr Salah. "But we have passed that point now. I am doing multiple surgeries every day. I have one assistant and I am obliged to do everything myself."
"It's like we are treating patients
immediately after Hiroshima."
'My baby was blind.
She couldn't eat or speak.
I mourn for her'
Families' Heartache Over Falluja Birth Defects
Martin Chulov in Falluja - guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 November 2009 18.55 GMT
Doctors and parents tell of huge growth in abnormalities in children of city that saw some of the fiercest fighting – and largest quantities of munitions – of the Iraq war.
Zainab Abdul Latif moves wearily between her three children, wiping their foreheads and propping them up in their wheelchairs. "Every day, they need intensive care," the 29-year-old Falluja mother says. Neither her two sons, Amar, 5, and Moustafa, 3, or daughter, Mariam, 6, can walk or use their limbs. They speak two words – "mama, baba" – between them. All are in nappies.
Zainab is one of many faces of Falluja's postwar years, overwhelmed by a workload that she has no means to change. "They cannot eat, or drink by themselves and every day I have to take Mariam to the hospital. She is very sensitive to flu and regularly gets diarrhoea and other ailments. The doctors have told me they are mentally retarded and have nerve paralysis. They say it is congenital. I really can't take care of them like this and I need help."
One of few people she can turn to is Dr Bassem Allah, the senior obstetrician who is chief custodian of Falluja's newborns. During medical school he had to search Iraq for case studies of an infant with a birth defect. "It was almost impossible during the 80s," he says. "Now, every day in my clinic or elsewhere in the hospital, there are large numbers of congenital abnormalities or cases of chronic tumours."
He pauses, his thoughts seemingly interrupted by the gravity of his words, then slowly continues. "Now, believe me, it's like we are treating patients immediately after Hiroshima."
Across Falluja, neonatal wards and centres for disabled people are facing such an influx of infants or children aged under five with chronic deformities that they are fast running out of space and staff to help. After two years of anecdotal reports suggesting a spike in birth defects, more precise data is painting a picture of a deeply disturbing phenomenon.
The Guardian asked Dr Samira Abdul Ghani, a specialist at Falluja general hospital, to compile data from all the newborns she supervised over the three weeks from 11 October. She reported 37 cases of serious deformities, many of them neural tube defects [birth defects of the brain and spinal column including spina bifida and anencephaly], with accompanying heart problems. A sharp rise in the number of infant tumours is also being chronicled by hospital staff but, because tumours usually materialise months or years after birth, doctors are reluctant to quantify their research.
"There is ... a very marked increase in the number of paediatric cases of less than two years with brain tumours," said the hospital director, Dr Ayman Qais. "This is now a focus area of multiple tumours. We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies, especially neural tube defects."
Before 2003, he had been seeing sporadic deformities in babies. Now the frequency had increased dramatically. Most were in the head and spinal cord, but many were in lower limbs.
At Falluja General, doctors who care for newborns are dealing with phenomena none can explain.
The city was the site of the two most savage and prolonged battles in Iraq during the past six years. The potentially toxic residue of precision munitions that rained down on the city for up to two months in 2004 has left many medical professionals questioning the long-term impact of modern weaponry, although few are willing, so far, to directly blame the war.
Doctors point to many factors that could contribute to the birth defects: malnutrition, the psychological status of the parents, drug use, chemicals or radiation. Even preliminary treatment for the most common defect requires life-threatening surgery — a price too high for many parents.
Evidence is on display throughout Falluja's new general hospital and at centres for disabled people across the city. On 2 November, there were four cases of neural tube defects in the neonatal ward. Several more were in intensive care and an out-patient clinic.
"Many more fathers and mothers are refusing ongoing hospital admissions and, until recently, we did not record their children as having been born with defects," said Qais. "I tell parents after each diagnosis that they will need a shunt procedure, which will most likely lead to chronic swelling in the head and the need for surgery in the skull or brain, so the majority of parents are not taking this option."
Falluja's obstetricians said the significant rise in diagnoses of congenital defects was not explained by improving healthcare in the city. "We used to diagnose all such patients before the war," said Qais. "They were registered here and then sent to Baghdad for treatment, but we knew the health base of the newborn."
The story in Falluja is playing out away from the clinical calm of hospital wards. In homes across the city, the care needs of children with debilitating injuries are faced by families with no access to social welfare and little support outside their inner-sanctum.
Not far from Zainab's house, Um Omar is mourning the death three months ago of her three-year old daughter, Fatima, who was born with a second mass that protruded from her neck. She was known as the girl with two heads.
Allah, who treated Fatima, said that there was no chance of saving her life in Iraq. "The second 'head' was actually a tumour that contained part of the hydrocephalus and part of the brain. To save her needed highly specialised equipment that we do not have here."
Her mother still grieves for Fatima. "I'm sad about the death of my baby despite all the hardship she faced," she said. "She was blind, she couldn't eat, she had no oesophagus and never walked or spoke. She was my last child. All the rest were born before the war.
All four children were registered by the Falluja Handicapped Organisation, a rudimentary facility with little funding or means to provide other than moral support to the increasing numbers of families flowing through its doors.
The director, Hussain Matroud, said there were 300 children on his books. Many thousands more remained in the community, with their parents and carers refusing help. Some patients being treated for congenital defects at the centre for people with disabilities were clearly born before the start of the war, but the vast majority of children on the register were aged six, or younger.
"Most of the children have brain injuries and nearly all are under eight years," he said. "There were very few before the war. We are in constant contact with NGOs in America, India and Britain, who try to help with treatment. But all we can really do for now is compile their names and the extent of their conditions."
Mohammed and Rana Majid have a daughter, Zahra, who was born four years ago. She has been diagnosed with developmental disabilities stemming back to the pregnancy. The parents complained to the American military and received a compensation form to fill out. They have done so, but received no reply.
Several other families have lodged claims with the US military, but without a scientific case are unlikely to get far. Allah believes science has to start playing a role in explaining what has happened to the city and its young.
"The numbers of abnormalities we are seeing is horrific and no one has yet concluded why," said Allah. "There is not yet any science to tell us why. No one has come here to take soil samples, or make examinations. I think the Iraqi government does not want it proven that the Americans used forbidden weapons here. If there is scientific proof that the war was responsible for so many deformities, there will likely be problems for officials here."
US troops entered Falluja shortly after invading Iraq in March 2003, but it was the bloody assault some 19 months later that would become synonymous with the city. Operation Vigilant Resolve, in April 2004, was a response to the killing of four US private military contractors employed by Blackwater (now XE). On 8 November 2004 10,000 US troops and 2,000 Iraqi soldiers embarked on Operation Phantom Fury.
The US military called the fighting "some of the heaviest urban combat marines have been involved in since Hue City in Vietnam in 1968".
The US claimed to have killed 2,000 people, mainly insurgents, but produced no figures for civilians. Western media were kept out but accounts emerged of indiscriminate killing.
Iraqi medical officials and NGOs put the civilian toll at up to 6,000. Falluja's compensation commissioner said 36,000 out of 50,000 homes were destroyed, with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines. At least 200,000 civilians became refugees.
Corporate War is beyond sickness or understanding. Speechless! _________________ It has been said that "curiosity" killed the cat but it might be more accurately stated that "seriousity" killed the cat.
November 9th, 2004 was Fallujah's 9/11 Tuesday.
It marked the peak of three days of indiscriminate
bombing of Fallujah by US forces.
Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Al-Shaalan promised
that the day would be decisive. It wasn't.
It was inhumane beyond belief, almost beyond
The bomb blitz featured weapons of mass destruction: banned napalm-
type munitions, chemical poison gas and super-bombs of up to 2,000-
pounds. The ground assault was indiscriminate. The target was a city
where at least 60,000 civilians outnumbered rebel fighters by over thirty
Within days we interviewed Dahr Jamail, on the usual scratchy phone line
from his hotel room in Baghdad. For all it's faults, back then, Democracy
Now was the ONLY other news source besides BreakForNews to air his
damming report on the slaughter in Fallujah. Albeit, Amy Goodman only
gave him a scant few minutes for such an important story.
We also interviewed journalist, Eva Jasiewicz whose report on Fallujah
contained eyewitmess accounts of toxic gas attacks on the city:
"[An] apple smelling chemical with which they were exposed to before
the main onslaught into Fallujah. There was a break of about half a day
between the presence of the gas/chemical and when the main assault
started. The chemical created open wounds on the skin which
were very hard to treat.
After a while all exposed areas on the skin were cracked and bleeding.
People came out of Fallujah with these injuries. They described smoke, a
sweet smell and when they were exposed to the smoke, they coughed up
blood and had cracked bleeding skin."
That information never came out on Democracy Now, back then or since.
Now working for AlJazeera, Dahr reports that Fallujah's rate of congenital
birth defects is 14 times the rate found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Most war crimes are once-off. This is a gift that keeps on giving. It's a
permanent curse of deformed births inflicted on the women of Iraq.
There is zero interest by mainstream media in this war crime.
Still a war crime though.
20 Mar 2013 - Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses how the U.S.
invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects
suspected of being caused by the U.S. military's extensive use of
depleted uranium and white phosphorus.
Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says:
"They're are extremely hard to bear witness to, but it's something that we
all need to pay attention to ... What this has generated is from 2004 up to
this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of
Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at
the end of World War II."
Iraq: War's legacy of cancer
Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes
of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.
by Dahr Jamail Last Modified: 15 Mar 2013 19:24
Fallujah, Iraq - Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.
Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal, and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.
There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.
Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.
As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.
"Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 per cent of the healthcare in Iraq is public," Dr Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Al Jazeera. "The other half of our healthcare is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number."
Dr Haddad believes there is a direct correlation between increasing cancer rates and the amount of bombings carried out by US forces in particular areas.
"My colleagues and I have all noticed an increase in Fallujah of congenital malformations, sterility, and infertility," he said. "In Fallujah, we have the problem of toxics introduced by American bombardments and the weapons they used, like DU."
During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.
"We are concerned about the future of our children being exposed to radiation and other toxic materials the US military have introduced into our environment," Dr Haddad added.......
Doctors in Fallujah are continuing to witness the aforementioned steep rise in severe congenital birth defects, including children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumours, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems.
Today in Fallujah, residents are reporting to Al Jazeera that many families are too scared to have children, as an alarming number of women are experiencing consecutive miscarriages and deaths with critically deformed and ill newborns.
Dr Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.
"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine," Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital last year, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects....
Dr Alani has visited Japan where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between one and two per cent. Alani's log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the effected areas of Japan.
In March 2013, Dr Alani informed Al Jazeera that the incident rates of congenital malformations remained around 14 percent.
As staggering as these statistics are, Dr Alani points to the same problem of under-reporting that Dr Haddad mentioned, and said that the crisis is even worse than these statistics indicate....
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