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bigron:
Cancer – Deadly legacy of the invasion of Iraq 

17/02/2010 02:00:00 PM GMT
http://aljazeera.com/news/articles/39/Cancer-Deadly-legacy-of-the-invasion-of-Iraq.html
 
 Cancer is spreading in Iraq. Doctors are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects.

(splinder.com) There's dramatic rise in cancer and deformities among newborns in Iraq

By Jalal Ghazi

Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer. Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment.

Here are a few examples. In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the U.S. in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord.

The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009.

In Basra there were 1885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali says about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now.

Not everyone is ready to draw a direct correlation between allied bombing of these areas and tumors, and the Pentagon has been skeptical of any attempts to link the two. But Iraqi doctors and some Western scholars say the massive quantities of depleted uranium used in U.S. and British bombs, and the sharp increase in cancer rates are not unconnected.

Dr Ahmad Hardan, who served as a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, says that there is scientific evidence linking depleted uranium to cancer and birth defects. He says, "Children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic back-grounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that depleted uranium has disastrous consequences."

Iraqi doctors say cancer cases increased after both the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion.

According to Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of “Uranium in Iraq”, the incubation period for depleted uranium is five to six years, which is consistent with the spike in cancer rates in 1996-1997 and 2008-2009.

There are also similar patterns of birth defects among Iraqi and Afghan infants who were also born in areas that were subjected to depleted uranium bombardment.

Dr. Daud Miraki, director of the Afghan Depleted Uranium and Recovery Fund, said that he found evidence of the effect of depleted uranium in infants in eastern and south- eastern Afghanistan. “Many children are born with no eyes, no limbs, or tumors protruding from their mouths and eyes,” said Dr. Miraki.

It’s not just Iraqis and Afghans. Babies born to American soldiers deployed in Iraq during the 1991 war are also showing similar defects. In 2000, Iraqi biologist Huda saleh Mahadi pointed out that the hands of deformed American infants were directly linked to their shoulders, a deformity seen in Iraqi infants.

Many U.S. soldiers are now referring to Gulf War Syndrome #2 and alleging they have developed cancer because of exposure to depleted uranium in Iraq.

But soldiers can end their exposure to depleted uranium when their service in Iraq ends. Iraqi civilians have nowhere else to go. The water, soil and air in large areas of Iraq, including Baghdad, are contaminated with depleted uranium that has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the U.S. Army’s Depleted Uranium Project during the first Gulf War, was in charge of a project of decontaminating American tanks. He says that “it took the U.S. Department of Defense in a multi-million dollar facility with trained physicists and engineers, three years to decontaminate the 24 tanks that I sent back to the U.S.”

And he added, “What can the average Iraqi do with thousands and thousands of trash and destroyed vehicles spread across the desert and other areas?”

Reports suggest that the Pentagon used more than 300 tons of depleted uranium in 1991. In 2003, the United States used more than 1,000 tons.

-- Jalal Ghazi's article appeared in www.newamericamedia.org.






-- Middle East Online

 

bigron:
Video: Far from Freedom

ABC News Online
http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m63384&hd=&size=1&l=e



February 17, 2010

ABC News Online presents this major investigation into Iraqi refugees living in Jordan. For two months, freelance video and photo journalist Ed Giles lived and worked among the refugees.

They told him their stories and showed him their lives.

The results of this assignment have been drawn together in this unique presentation.

Take the time to explore each chapter, access the additional interviews, and watch out for a special report screening on Lateline tonight at 10.30pm on ABC 1.

Chapter One: I Came Here For My Safety

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/iraqis/feature.htm

Explore the grey zone that is refugee life in Amman, Jordan. "I came here for my safety" delves into the lives of five Iraqi refugees as they wait in 'the queue.' Here, they struggle to gain education, employment or sometimes, simply a daily meal...


Chapter Two: Already We Should Have Been Suspicious

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/iraqis/feature.htm?res=480p#chapter=2

Already we should have been suspicious" looks at one simple question - How many Iraqi refugees live in Jordan? The many conflicting answers impacts upon the flow of aid money, the distribution of aid and ultimately the quality of life for Iraqi refugees.


Chapter Three: Into the Smuggling Networks

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/iraqis/feature.htm?res=480p#chapter=3






 

bigron:
Iraqi Refugees: A Tough Road Home

Unable to Return Home Safely, Uprooted Iraqis Grow Destitute and Desperate

International Rescue Committee



Unable to Return Home Safely, Uprooted Iraqis Grow Destitute and Desperate - IRC Press Release

http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m63416&hd=&size=1&l=e

Needs of Displaced Mount as Global Aid and Interest Wane, says IRC Report
17 Feb 2010 - Seven years into the Iraq conflict, millions of Iraqi civilians remain uprooted and desperate, but ongoing strife and persecution, occupied and ruined homes and lack of vital services in their communities of origin preclude most from returning home safely, says the International Rescue Committee’s Commission on Iraqi Refugees.

In its third report, "A Tough Road Home: Uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq," the Commission says only a tiny fraction of Iraq’s displaced have returned home, in spite of reports that would suggest otherwise. For the vast majority of those who remain uprooted, the situation is precarious and growing worse, yet aid levels that were inadequate to begin with are dropping off.

"At a time when increased aid is urgently needed for uprooted Iraqis, international attention and support are waning," says IRC President George Rupp, who led the Commission on a visit to Jordan, Syria and Iraq late last year. "It is critical that diplomacy and resources be redirected toward creating conditions suitable for the safe return of displaced Iraqis and speeding resettlement for those who cannot go back. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Government and international donors must ramp up and improve assistance for displaced Iraqis where they are currently living."

During their latest visit to the region, Rupp and other delegates met with senior government officials, UN representatives and dozens of Iraqi civilians who described harrowing incidents of bombings, killings, torture, threats and persecution that they and loved ones experienced before fleeing.  In many cases, Iraqis were targeted for having aided the U.S. government and Coalition forces.

The Commission found that most displaced Iraqis inside and outside Iraq are struggling to get by and continue to face overwhelming economic obstacles. They have largely exhausted savings they once had and are becoming more if not solely dependent on charity. Few are able to find stable sources of income. Many lack adequate shelter, food and other basic services. Those who have been renting apartments are increasingly unable to afford them. A large number suffer severe psychological distress over the loss of family, savings, livelihoods and property. In Iraq, government assistance is often out of reach because of chronic insecurity and bureaucratic red tape. In Jordan and Syria, health care and other services are there but are often prohibitively expensive.

"With no end to their suffering in sight, hopelessness and frustration are pervasive," the IRC report states.

Expressing concern about a "lost generation" of Iraqi youth, the IRC Commission says young Iraqis have been deeply impacted by the chaos and uncertainty around them. Violence and displacement have disrupted the education of many children and teens who are now behind in their learning. In Iraq, many can’t travel to school because it’s unsafe or too expensive. Throughout the region, many Iraqi children who do attend class go in shifts because schools open to displaced kids are overcrowded. Many Iraqi children are also forced to work to help their families stay afloat. Sexual and economic exploitation of children, youth and female-headed households is a growing problem and concern, particularly in Jordan and Syria.

Commission members say most displaced Iraqis desperately want to go home and rebuild their lives but cannot return to communities that are unsafe and in disrepair.

"Many Iraqis tell us that they can’t go home because their houses are destroyed, damaged or occupied by armed groups or other displaced people," says Aidan Goldsmith, a delegation member and director of IRC programs in Iraq. "They also say that they’re afraid of being killed or harassed by militias for religious, ethnic or political reasons if they go back. And sadly, many know of friends and family who have disappeared upon return."

Goldsmith adds that communities across Iraq currently have little to no capacity to absorb hundreds of thousands of returnees. "Why would Iraqis go back if there’s no clean water, food or electricity or if it’s too dangerous for their children to walk to school?" he asks. "Their eventual return is going to be contingent on improved security and protection, functioning hospitals and schools, access to aid and basic services, the resolution of property disputes and the ability to find employment."

The report concludes that the plight of displaced Iraqis continues to be ignored: "We are convinced that most refugees cannot and should not go home now—it is not safe for many of them and for many others, there is nothing to go back to.  Sadly, some will never be able to go home again." 

The IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees makes recommendations on addressing immediate and long-term needs to the Governments of Iraq, the United States, Jordan, Syria, the Kurdish Region and EU countries, as well as the United Nations.
Key recommendations include:

Government of Iraq
The Iraqi Government has failed to adequately address the displacement crisis and the humanitarian needs of hundreds of thousands of its displaced citizens. Authorities should vastly increase aid for displaced Iraqis at home and outside the country, particularly in Jordan and Syria, and eliminate needless bureaucratic barriers to registration and basic services.  Improved protection for civilians, particularly in neighborhoods now populated by a homogenous religious group or sect, must be a critical component of a comprehensive and long-term voluntary return and reintegration program.  Such a program must also include rebuilding infrastructure and shelter, restoring needed services and property restitution.

United States
The U.S. has spent approximately $650 billion for military operations in Iraq and a disproportionate $29 billion for diplomacy and aid. More resources must be allocated to help the displaced in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other host countries. The U.S. should increase financial and technical assistance to the Iraqi government, press Iraqi authorities to increase assistance to IDPs and refugees and help create conditions across Iraq that will allow for the sustainable return of uprooted people. The United States must continue to lead the way in giving sanctuary to the most vulnerable Iraqis who cannot return home and keep reforming its resettlement program to ensure that new arrivals have sufficient support to successfully restart their lives.

European Governments
European countries, particularly the U.K., must remain engaged in Iraq, providing increased levels of technical support and resources to assist refugees and internally displaced Iraqis. European countries must open their doors to far greater numbers of Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement and immediately stop the forced return of refugees and asylum seekers to Iraq.  The move puts the lives of civilians at grave risk, since insecurity remains the principal reason why people have fled or are still fleeing Iraq.

Governments of Jordan and Syria
Syria and Jordan, which have shouldered an enormous burden by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees, should extend temporary legal status to refugees and permit them to work. The two countries should also work with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) to enhance legal protections and expand refugee rights.

Commission Reports

The latest report from the IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees: "A Tough Road Home: Uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq." [PDF]

The Commission’s first report on the Iraqi refugee crisis, "Five Years Later: A Hidden Crisis," was issued in 2008.

A second report, "Iraqi Refugees in the United States: In Dire Straits," followed in 2009. 

For More Information

IRC's special report on the Iraqi refugee crisis: theIRC.org/iraqirefugees

IRC Programs in Iraq, Jordan and Syria: The International Rescue Committee returned to the region in 2007 to address the basic needs of refugees and internally displaced Iraqis—delivering vital assistance to some 90,000 people. The IRC rehabilitates schools, sets up child friendly spaces, and offers remedial education, special aid for disabled children and adults, and counseling for vulnerable populations. It also provides cash assistance and household supplies, repairs water and sanitation system repairs, carries out programs that prevent and respond to incidents of violence against women, distributes shelter materials and tools, and provides access to legal aid and other protection services.















 

bigron:
International study confirms doubling of childhood leukemia rates in southern Iraq

EurekAlert!
http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m63437&hd=&size=1&l=e


February 18, 2010

Contact: Bobbi Nodell
[email protected]
206-271-1429
University of Washington - Health Sciences/UW News, Community Relations & Marketing

Seattle, Feb. 18 -- Childhood leukemia rates have more than doubled over the last 15 years in the southern Iraq province of Basrah, according to the study, "Trends in Childhood Leukaemia in Basrah, Iraq (1993-2007), published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The authors, three of whom are from the University of Washington, say they hope their calculations can now pave the way for an investigation into reasons why the rates have climbed so high, and why they are higher than found in nearby Kuwait, or in the European Union or the United States.

The study documents 698 cases of leukemia for children aged 0-14 during the 15-year period, with a peak of 211 cases in 2006. Younger children had higher rates than older ones.

"By using a hospital cancer registry, we were able to measure a jump in leukemia rates from 3 per 100,000 youngsters in the first part of our study period, to a rate of almost 8 and a half in the final three years," said UW Department of Global Health faculty member Amy Hagopian, the paper's lead author.

By comparison, Hagopian said, the European Union and the United States report rates of 4 and 5 per 100,000, respectively. She also noted Kuwait reports a rate of approximately 2 per 100,000 and Oman reports rates between 2 and 3, depending on the gender of the child (boys typically have higher rates, as do children from higher socio-economic classes).

"Studying childhood diseases in war situations is difficult," Hagopian noted. "Aside from the normal difficulties of controlling for referral patterns changes caused by war-time conditions, the political situation is also challenging. We were constantly worried about the political risks our medical colleagues were taking by collecting and reporting these data."

Another author of the paper, UW Department of Epidemiology Chairman Scott Davis, noted, "Another challenge was securing population data for purposes of calculating rates." He said census data were not collected after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and population patterns were thought to be disrupted by migration patterns, as well. Study authors say they used the most conservative assumptions available, so as not to overstate their findings.

The study was conceived by faculty at University of Washington and two Iraqi universities -- Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and Basrah University—and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The authors formed an ongoing partnership to support public health in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

During the period studied, Basrah and its highly populated surrounding area, which includes farmland and oil fields, became a modern battlefield, pummeled by three consecutive wars, including the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the first U.S. invasion in 1991and the second U.S. invasion in 2003.

The researchers now seek to understand the cause of Iraq's increased rate of child leukemia by conducting a case-control study to compare children who got leukemia with those who did not. That sort of study allows researchers to see if there were differences in exposures between the cases and the controls. Some increased exposures related to child leukemia could include the byproducts of regional petroleum fires and benzene, which comes from gasoline sold by children at the side of the road as a result of disrupted fuel supplies, war-related nerve agents and pesticides, and the widespread use of depleted uranium munitions.


bigron:
Nerve agents could be to blame for tripling of child leukaemia in Basra

by Sam Lister
http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m63452&hd=&size=1&l=e



February 19, 2010

Rates of leukaemia in children around the Basra area of Southern Iraq have almost tripled in the last 15 years according to calculations by public health experts. Research published in the American Journal of Public Health documents 698 cases of leukaemia among children under the age of 15 in the period to 2007. There was a peak of 211 cases in 2006.

Rates increased from three to almost 8.5 cases of the disease per 100,000 children over the time period. This is more than double the rate of leukaemia in the European Union.

The researchers, who studied hospital cancer registries in Basra, said that more analysis was now need to identify triggers for the surge. They speculated that increased exposure to substances related to childhood leukaemia might be responsible — such as byproducts of regional petroleum fires and benzene, which comes from gasoline sold by children at the side of the road as a result of disrupted fuel supplies. War-related nerve agents and pesticides, and the widespread use of depleted uranium munitions, might also be factors, they said.

During the period studied, Basra and its highly populated surrounding area, which includes farmland and oil fields, was exposed to a series of wars and military occupations, including the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and two United States-led invasions, in 1991 and 2003.

British forces were based in the city, the largest in Southern Iraq, for six years, with combat operations officially ending in April last year. Located on the Shatt Al-Arab river, the city is the terminal point for oil pipelines, and petroleum refining is a major industry.

Amy Hagopian, the research paper’s lead author from University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, said that the rates were concerning not only in comparison to Europe and the US, but also other Middle Eastern countries.

Kuwait reports a rate of approximately two per 100,000 and Oman reports rates between 2 and 3, depending on the gender of the child (boys typically have higher rates, as do children from higher socio-economic classes).

Dr Hagopian said: "By using a hospital cancer registry, we were able to measure a jump in leukemia rates from 3 per 100,000 youngsters in the first part of our study period, to a rate of almost 8 and a half in the final three years."

She added that tracking the rates had proved particularly challenging given Iraq’s recent problems.

"Studying childhood diseases in war situations is difficult. Aside from the normal difficulties of controlling for referral patterns changes caused by war-time conditions, the political situation is also challenging. We were constantly worried about the political risks our medical colleagues were taking by collecting and reporting these data."

The study was developed by the University of Washington (UW), two Iraqi universities — Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and Basra University — and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Scott Davis, chair of UW Department of Epidemiology, said that a further challenge had been posed by a lack of census data, which was not collected after the most recent military action.

The authors, who formed a partnership to support public health in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, said they had used the most conservative assumptions available, so as not to overstate their findings.

A study on civilian death tolls in Iraq published in The Lancet attracted controversy for calculating that 655,000 more people had died in Iraq in the three years after coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred. The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, was far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq’s government.





 

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