The increases in cancer, infant mortality and perturbations in birth sex ratio in Fallujah are significantly greater than those recorded for survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a study and reported by Karlos Zurutuza of Inter Press Service (IPS).The study, released by the Switzerland-based International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, shows that in the years following Operation Phantom Fury there has been a 4-fold increase in all cancer, including a 12-fold increases in childhood cancer in those aged 0-14.
According to hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi, Fallujah hospital cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects because there are just too many.
Noam Chomsky considers the findings “immensely more embarrassing than the WikiLeaks leaks on Afghanistan,” according to IPS.
“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.
“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.
On March 31, 2004, images of the dismembered bodies of Blackwater mercenaries hanging from a bridge were broadcast around the world. After al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, Fallujah saw the heaviest U.S. urban combat since the Battle of Huế City in Vietnam in 1968.
The local population paid the price in the form of random house-to- house checks and intense night bombings accompanied by white phosphorus and depleted uranium (DU).
White phosphorus is an incendiary weapon that can cause injuries and even death by burning deep into tissue if contacting skin; irritating eyes, the nasal cavity, and respiratory tract if inhaled; and liver, heart or kidney damage if ingested.
Depleted uranium is said to significantly increase the penetration capacity of shells, but it is also a radioactive element with a half-life of 4.5 billion years and has been called the “silent murderer that never stops killing,” according to IPS.
Samira Alaani, chief doctor at Fallujah hospital, took part in a study in close collaboration with the World Health organisation. Several tests conducted in London point to unusually large amounts of uranium and mercury in the hair root of those affected. That could be the evidence linking the use of prohibited weapons to the extent of congenital problems in Fallujah.
Birth sex ratio is a well known indicator of genetic damage because girls have a redundant X-chromosome and thus can afford to lose one through genetic damage whereas boys do not.
Birth sex ratio in normal populations is about 1,050 boys born per 1,000 girls, but the sex ratio for the group born in 2005 was 860 (which is about the same as the children of Hiroshima survivors).
Dr. Chris Busby, who is visiting Professor in the University of Ulster and Scientific Director of Green Audit, said that it was an “extraordinary and alarming result” and that “some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened” to produce effects like this,” according to the study.
This month the WHO will collaborate with the Iraqi Health Ministry to launch the first ever study on congenital malformations in Baghdad, Anbar, Thi Qar, Suleimania, Diala and Basra.
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