Serbia’s Environment Minister Saša Dragin marked Earth Day on April 22nd by announcing that Serbia was now DU free, following the NATO attacks in 1999.
During its 78-day air campaign on Serbia’s predecessor Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO used large quantities of DU ammunition, mostly in the form of 30mm shells from A10 Warthog ground attack aircraft. Unfortunately his announcement may be a little premature while NATO has identified some 112 sites where it has acknowledged using depleted uranium munitions in Kosovo, it seems as if it has still not given Belgrade a comprehensive list for the rest of Serbia.
The release of targetting data for Kosovo will be of scant reassurance to the villagers of Planeja, an ethnic Albanian settlement near Prizren, Kosovo.
Beside the widespread unemployment, the most worrying aspect of life in the village is an increase in cancer cases, and fatal outcomes of the disease. “At least five people died of cancer after the war,” says local leader Zenun Shehu. Others locals interviewed by web-magazine Beta said that the number is “at least three times that”, but that this, and the number of those suffering from the illness, “is not publicly discussed”. Locals believe that radiation levels are still high, and that some diseases that they say were extremely rare before the war, such as high blood pressure, are now common.
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Page last updated: September 30, 2008