What is going on in Fallujah?
Operation Vigilante Resolve, the codename for a failed operation to retake and ‘pacify’ the city of Fallujah, saw a massive US military bombardment of the densely populated city. This was followed by a second assault in November and December 2004 carried out by a joint UK, US and Iraqi force.
Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of miscarriages and women giving birth to children with congenital abnormalities. Unfortunately there are no definitive figures for the number of babies born with birth defects. Some doctors in the region have attempted to keep their own records but there is no centralised database or monitoring system in place.
In 2010 a Guardian report on this stated:
‘The latest Falluja study surveyed 55 families with seriously deformed newborns between May and August. It was conducted by Dr Samira Abdul Ghani, a paediatrician at Falluja general hospital. In May, 15% of the 547 babies born had serious birth defects. In the same period, 11% of babies were born at less than 30 weeks and 14% of foetuses spontaneously aborted.
The researchers believe that the figures understate what they describe as an epidemic of abnormalities, because a large number of babies in Falluja are born at home with parents reluctant to seek help from authorities.’
Although many believe depleted uranium to be one of the major causes of these problems in Fallujah, a lack of transparency by the US government as to the quantity and locations of munitions used, and a lack of any form of environmental assessment into potential causes of the problems, means that there is no conclusive evidence to prove this.
One cannot imagine how traumatic an experience this must be for new mothers or for women considering the prospect of raising a family. A similar situation within any city in the UK or the US would not be a tolerated. Health epidemics such as Swine Flu or Mad Cow disease rarely go unnoticed in the UK. We only have to look at the E-coli outbreak last year to see how quickly and seriously the government seek to investigate and take preventative measures. Yet the epidemic in Fallujah, of which the UK and US may well be responsible for, has gone by barely noticed. There seems to be no political will to find out why this is happening in Fallujah.
We join with ICBUW to ask for:
- An urgent assessment of all risk factors in the environment in Fallujah
- Medical assistance especially for pre and post-natal women
- A detailed and transparent health monitoring system to be put into place for the population of Fallujah
- The US to urgently release all available data on the locations of uranium weapon strikes in Iraq to NGOs and international agencies to help facilitate decontamination and risk awareness programmes
Please take a moment on International Women’s Day to think about the women and children of Fallujah, write to you MP and ask them ‘What is going on in Fallujah?’