Monday, June 2, 2008

Collateral Damage

Lisa Holland
Foreign affairs correspondent
Updated:07:32, Thursday May 29, 2008

Families in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are calling for an investigation into their claims of a rise in the number of birth defects.

Fatima Ahmed
Three-year-old Fatima Ahmed
They have raised concerns about the weapons used by American forces in 2004 - when Fallujah suffered one of the heaviest bombardments of the entire war in Iraq.
The evidence is anecdotal because there are no records from the era of Saddam Hussein to compare their stories against.
But Hikmat Tawfeeq, deputy chairman of the Fallujah-based human rights group Alakhiyar said: "We have around 200 cases of deformities recorded by our society. Most of these cases are birth deformities which have arisen after the bombing of Fallujah."
Campaigners say officials are reluctant to speak out publicly, but at Fallujah's children's hospital one doctor told Sky News in the past month she has seen one or two cases of birth deformities every day.
An opthalmologist said he deals with four or five cases of newborn babies every week suffering from some form of eye deformity - and that has risen in the last two years.
At one of the cemeteries in Fallujah, undertaker Mahmoud Hummadi said he usually buries four to five bodies of newborns every day and most of them are deformed.
Phosphorus over Fallujah in 2004
Phosphorus over Fallujah in 2004
Fallujah today still bears the scars of a time when it represented the backbone of the Sunni insurgency - a power-base America decided it had to break.
April and November 2004 saw some of the heaviest bombardments of the war in Iraq, including the controversial use of white phosphorous.
It is a highly flammable material which ignites when it comes into contact with oxygen, causing severe burns.
In a statement to Sky News the US military said it had used white phosphorus in Fallujah but primarily as a smokescreen and not as an incendiary weapon.
US troops bombed the city
US troops bombed the city
The families say doctors have raised concerns to them about what kinds of materials were used by the Americans in order to achieve their military goals.

Fatima Ahmed is three years old. Small and lifeless she barely moves, burdened by two heads on her tiny frame.
Her mother Shukriya says doctors have been unable to diagnose exactly what has caused Fatima's condition.
But her father Jassim, when asked who he held responsible for his daughter's condition, said: "It's because of the war - it's the flagrant aggression they launched against us. What they dropped in Fallujah God knows."
We showed our findings from Fallujah to Alastair Hay, a professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University.
He is currently investigating injuries caused to children during the war in Iraq. He says without an independent medical study it is impossible to say for sure what has caused the deformities and how they may be linked.
But he says there has never been a study examining if there ARE links between white phosphorus and birth deformities.

1 comment:

Sujaco said...

Just heartbreaking. Thanks for posting story and pics.