Feb 21, 2009
This post was first published in TH!NK ABOUT IT site 21st February 2009.
Italian non-governmental organisation – the Rome-based "Un ponte per …"
- is investigating consequences of NATO's 1999 bombings of Serbia and
the effects of the use of depleted uranium (DU) on the civilian
population. The NATO allegedly used shells with depleted uranium which are still today causing an increase in the number of cancer patients. NATO
has admitted the use of DU in the bombing campaign and Italian media
has reported that 45 Italian soldiers who served in the international
forces in Kosovo (KFOR) died after the bombing and 515 became ill with
cancer. In Serbia and its separatist province Kosovo the number of
civilian victims is still unexplored but most likely the figures are
manifold compared to those of soldiers.
topic was discussed years ago when e.g. I was working in Kosovo,
however any proof and warnings then did not came to my hands. Later
more information was available and on 24th Nov. 2008 I wrote an article "Depleted Uranium from NATO bombs killing people in Balkans" referring information I got from Croatian news portal Javno.
And DU is…?
To get picture above larger go to link .
The recent military use of DU
the 78 days of NATO bombing, a total of 31,000 shells with depleted
uranium, weapons banned by international treaties, were dropped in at
least 112 locations in Serbia and especially Kosovo region. Earlier in
Bosnia-Herzegovina around 10,000 rounds were fired in operations around
Sarajevo in the latter stages of allied operations in Bosnia. More
than 100,000 DU shells were fired during the Gulf war 1991.
A map of places where DU has been used either in combat or by accident below:
Un Ponte per…
Ponte per… (UPP) is a volunteer association established in 1991 just
after the end of the bombings on Iraq. Its aim was to promote
humanitarian aid to the Iraqi population. When the war in the Balkans
escalated, the association created new campaign and started various
projects aimed at sending medicines and health supplies to the Yugoslav
Federation and helping refugees from Kosovo. UPP’s institutional
partners include ECHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNESCO,UNOPS,UNHOCI ,UNRWA,
Italian Municipalities and Regions and Provinces, and more info about
their activities can be found from their web-site .
New investigation in Serbia/Kosovo
the 'Un ponte per...' NGO investigator Alessandro di Meo told Adnkronos
International (AKI) that the international community was turning a deaf
ear to the problem, because the use of depleted uranium is prohibited
by international conventions. "But ten years after the bombing, the
world has the right to know what really happened and what the
consequences are," he said. Samantha Menngarelli – also investigator of
"Un ponte per…" - said the truth about military casualties was slowly
sinking in in Italy after a surprising increase in deaths and cancers
amongst soldiers who served in KFOR. "But the civilian victims have
been completely ignored and we want to shed light on this problem," she
said. (Source: Andkronos International )
'Un ponte per…’ investigators will tour several Serbian cities that
were hardest hit during the bombings before submitting a report to the
time a Serbian NGO, ironically called 'Merciful angel' the name of
NATO's 1999 airstrikes, recently reported that cancer ailments have
jumped about 200 percent in some parts of Kosovo and areas of Serbia
that were most heavily bombed. Earlier Javno news portal
reported that in Kosovo’s Kosovska Mitrovica in 2005 there were 38
percent more cancer patients than in 2004. In those two years, a total
of 3,500 cancer cases in Kosovo Albanians were diagnosed. Elsewhere
since 2001, medical personnel at the Basra hospital (Iraq) claimed that
they observed a sharp increase in the incidence of child leukemia and
genetic malformation among babies born in the decade following the Gulf
War. (More e.g. in Croatian news portal "Javno" 17.11.2008)
British and US governments have long denied that DU ammunition is
harmful. The British Gulf Veterans and Families Association have for
years called for systematic testing. It claims that "hundreds" of Gulf
warriors have died of cancers and other illnesses contracted during
active service. Also WHO is quite cautious about health risks of DU (More in WHO factsheets ).
is huge contradiction between official position of DU users and
findings on the ground. The situation is a bit similar like position of
tobacco industry compared the one of smokers – many have been died but
direct evidence of causality is missing.
is a developing scientific debate and concern expressed regarding the
impact of the use of DU projectiles and it is possible that, in future,
there will be a consensus view in international legal circles that use
of such projectiles violate general principles of the law applicable to
use of weapons in armed conflict. No such consensus exists at present.
In United Nations in December 2008, 141 states supported a resolution
requesting that three UN agencies: United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP), WHO and IAEA update their research on the impact of uranium
munitions by late 2010.
the other side there is also growing movement to ban DU military use.
International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – is now
comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries. From their web-site one can check latest developments.
the causality between DU military use and morbidity will came clear one
could speak war crime and demand some responsibility from those who
have decided to them. This could also be one connecting factor in
Balkans because DU maybe is killing people - civilians and soldiers -
there regardless of their ethnicity, religion and country as well
foreigners in mission.