Iraq: Gulf War caused malignancies in children

Under the Geneva Convention, it is illegal to leave harmful materials on a battlefield after the conflict has ceased. The aggression against Iraq during the Gulf War with Depleted Uranium weapons did exactly this, making the deployment illegal under international law.

Chapter IX, Article 50 of the Geneva Convention stipulates clearly that “wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” are prohibited and violate the Convention.

The College of Medicine at Basra University has produced a report which shows quite clearly that DU weaponry has greatly increased the incidence of malignant cancers among children in southern Iraq.

Figures comparing 1999 with 1990 show a 100% increase in leukaemia in children under 15 years of age, up from 1997 when the incidence was 60% higher. Not only were civilian areas contaminated, but this contamination has had a lasting and increasingly harmful effect. Overall malignancies in children under 15 during the 1990s was 242% more at the end of the decade compared with before the Gulf War, an incidence of 10.1 per 100,000 compared with 3.98 per 100,000 in 1990 and 7.22 in 1997.

The children affected by these malignancies are all from southern Iraq, an area where the US Armed Forces deployed DU weaponry in 1991. Medical experts have concluded that there is strong evidence to link the deployment of this weaponry with the increase in cancers; there is an alarming increase in cases of leukaemia in both male and female patients in southern Iraq during the 1990s and many of these are young children.

It is estimated that some 500 tonnes of DU weapons were deployed in southern Iraq by the US Armed Forces during the Gulf War, releasing unacceptable levels of radiation into the atmosphere, and polluting the soil and water. From a sample group of 17 families living in Basra at the time of the Gulf War, prospective analysis shows that 5 families have since been affected by cancers: 24.4% with breast cancer, 15.5% with lymphomas, 10.6% with acute leukaemia and 8.5% with chronic leukaemia.

Regarding the soil contamination, readings from the Basra municipal authorities show very high concentrations of Th-234, Pa-234 and Ra-226, Thorium being the first decay product in the Uranium-238 series. These findings show that the population in southern Iraq was exposed to unacceptably high levels of radiation by the US Armed Forces during the Gulf War.

The cases of leukaemia and the short latency period are classic symptoms of massive exposure to radiation. War crimes were committed in the Gulf in 1991 and the US Armed Forces were responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent civilians.


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