Iraq calls for global ban as study confirms depleted uranium cancer risks

img_457Iraq has called for an international treaty banning depleted uranium (DU) weapons in a report to the United Nations as evidence continues to mount of their risks to civilians. Iraq’s report, published ahead of this autumn’s UN General Assembly where DU weapons will be debated, also urges member states and UN agencies to adopt a proactive approach to the issue and condemn the use of the weapons. Iraq is the country most affected by wartime DU contamination, with at least 400,000kg used by the US and UK in 1991 and 2003’s conflicts.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) has also called for DU weapons to be banned, just as anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs have been. ICBUW argues that the weapons are inherently indiscriminate and that their legacy persists long after the end of conflict.

“ICBUW warmly welcomes Iraq’s intervention,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “We hope that it will act as a reminder that the legacy of these weapons lasts well beyond the end of conflicts and disproportionately affects the civilian population. The complete lack of obligations on the users of DU weapons to clean up their mess leaves civilians at risk of exposure as clearance is expensive, technically challenging and often beyond the ability of countries recovering from war.” Continue reading “Iraq calls for global ban as study confirms depleted uranium cancer risks”

Iraqi doctor petitions WHO for open-access review of birth defect data

Dr Samira Alani, who has worked at Fallujah General Hospital since 1997, has been documenting cases of congenital birth defects at the hospital since 2006, when a sharp increase in rates led her to begin recording data on the developing health crisis. Credit: Donna Mulhearn.

International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

Fallujah paediatrician Dr Samira Alaani has launched a petition calling for official data on rates of congenital birth defects in Iraq to be submitted for peer review in the open-access journal PLoS One after repeated publication delays by the World Health Organisation and Iraqi government (Petition is available here:

Results from the nationwide study, undertaken by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2012, are now long overdue. Iraqi researchers interviewed by the BBC earlier this year claimed it will link increased incidence rates of birth defects with areas subject to heavy fighting in the 2003 war – a hugely significant and politically sensitive conclusion.

Dr Alaani is calling for the data to be submitted to the leading open-access journal PloS One after persistent delays from the WHO and MoH in the analysis of the data. Publication in PLoS One would allow independent scrutiny of the data and reduce fears that the WHO’s internal process had been subject to politicisation because of the controversial nature of the study. The research was prompted by concerns from maternity hospitals across Iraq that rates of congenital birth defects were unusually high. This is the first time that rates have been recorded and analysed nationwide.

“We began logging these cases in 2006 and we have determined that 144 babies are born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. We believe it has to be related to contamination caused by the fighting in our city, even now, nearly 10 years later,” said Dr Samira Alaani, a paediatrician at Fallujah General Hospital. “It is not unique to Fallujah; hospitals throughout the Anbar Governorate and many other regions of Iraq are recording spiralling increases. Every day I see the strain this fear puts on expectant mothers and their families.” Continue reading “Iraqi doctor petitions WHO for open-access review of birth defect data”

Depleted Uranium Ban Bill passes through the Seanad

18 November 2010

On Wednesday evening, 17 November, the Prohibition of Depleted Uranium Weapons Bill passed through its final stage in the Seanad with cross party support. Afri is pleased with the progress of the Bill thus far, and would like to commend all Senators who have been involved in pushing the bill forward.

Senator Dan Boyle introduced the Bill as a Private Members Bill in July 2009, following a meeting organised by Afri with Doug Weir, Coordinator of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). Senator David Norris has also been an active supporter of the Bill and hosted a briefing for Senators on the issue in May 2010, as was Senator Hannigan of the Labour Party. David Norris highlighted that this is only the second time that a Private Members Bill has passed through the Seanad, which underlines the special achievement. Continue reading “Depleted Uranium Ban Bill passes through the Seanad”

Toxic Shock-and-Awe: The Poisoned Roots and Poisoned Fruits of War

Public Meeting: Buswells Hotel, Tuesday 4 May 2010, 7.30pm.

Former Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, who entered Iraq as part of the initial invasion force in March 2003, and Doug Weir of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons will speak at a public meeting organised by Afri in Dublin on Tuesday, May 4th at 7.30pm.

Many years after Depleted Uranium weapons were first used in Iraq their affects continue to be felt as many areas remain radioactive toxic wastelands. Incidences of cancer and birth defects have dramatically increased in Iraq and in other regions where these weapons have been used. The need for an effective ban on their use and to clean up the mess they’ve left in many parts of the world is ever more urgent. Continue reading “Toxic Shock-and-Awe: The Poisoned Roots and Poisoned Fruits of War”

Banning Depleted Uranium Weapons

Afri was one of the many NGOs which supported the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which eventually succeeded in achieving its goal when an international treaty banning landmines entered into force in March 1999.

In 2008 Afri became actively involved in the Campaign to ban Cluster Munitions, which also reached a successful conclusion, achieving a treaty to ban the use, deployment or stockpiling of Cluster Munitions, at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference in Croke Park in May 2008.

Following on these successes and with the encouragement of our patron, Denis Halliday, Afri has recently taken up the campaign towards securing a ban on Depleted Uranium Weapons, which have caused so much death and health damage throughout the world. Continue reading “Banning Depleted Uranium Weapons”