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Iraq’s Radiation: Not Going Away

May 5, 2012

One among an unusually high number of children in Basra fighting leukemia.  A study by the University of Baghdad found that birth defects had increased tenfold in Basra two years before the invasion in 2003. The trend is still on the rise. 
Photo: Karlos Zurutuza - IPS

According to Al Jazeera, the Pentagon used more than 300 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991. In 2003, the US military used more than 1,000 tons. In 2010, depleted uranium contamination was reported to be the highest on record, yet by 2012 continuing documentation has still not resulted in any action by the US or any other responsible party towards environmental clean-up.

An April 13, 2012 article written by Karlos Zurutuza from Fallujah, Iraq, quotes hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi saying:  “At Fallujah hospital they cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects – there are just too many. Parents don’t want to talk. Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone. It’s all too shameful for them.”

"We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more," says Hadidi. He projects pictures on to a wall at his office: children born with no brain, no eyes, or with the intestines out of their body.

Facing a frozen image of a child born without limbs, Hadidi says parents’ feelings usually range between shame and guilt. "They think it’s their fault, that there’s something wrong with them. And it doesn’t help at all when some elder tells them it’s been ‘God’s punishment’."

The pictures are difficult to look at. And, those responsible for all this have closed their eyes.

"In 2004 the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium...we have all been laboratory mice for them," says Hadidi, turning off the projector.  

Sources and Recommended Reading:  

Bollyn, Christopher, Series of six articles on Depleted Uranium, including "How Depleted Uranium Particles Damage Human Health," January 7, 2005

Friedemann, Karin, "Iraq’s Radiation: Not Going Away," The Muslim Observer, May 3, 2012

Zurutuza, Karlos, "Those Laboratory Mice Were Children," Inter Press Service, April 13, 2012 

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