After almost a decade of war in Iraq, local doctors in the Sunni town of Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, are dealing with a mysterious spike in deformities and other severe illnesses in children.
Records at the town’s general hospital indicate that around 15 per cent of new-borns are currently presenting congenital defects. Parents in distress are questioning doctors for concrete explanations they are unable to provide. Experts point out that weapons employed during two violent assaults by US and coalition Forces in 2004, could be the cause behind this acute phenomenon.
The battles of Fallujah, 'Operation Vigilant Resolve' and 'Operation Phantom Fury', have been the fiercest urban battles of the Iraq War.
According to a study carried out by Dr Christopher Busby, professor at the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and published in the ‘International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’, a major mutagenic exposure must have occurred. After testing hair samples from 25 parents with affected children, the academic was able to trace high levels of enriched uranium, with concentration increasing rapidly as time went back towards 2004.
Under suspicion are depleted uranium munitions, as well as new modern portable systems like the 'Javelin' missile and the thermobaric warheads, deployed with US Marines in Fallujah for the very first time.
The British government is presently facing a legal case at home, through ‘Public Interest Lawyers’, in Brighton, for its supposed involvement in the second battle for Fallujah. However, the release of information by the USA and comprehensive testing in Fallujah, are pivotal to corroborate Dr Busby’s scientific findings.
Meanwhile, doctors at Fallujah General Hospital are still waiting for foetal ultrasound equipment to perform essential prenatal tests and advice oblivious parents.
"Since 2004, life has been nothing but a struggle to survive. Eating, medicine, treatment; nothing else on your mind. Our whole life just vanished. I can no longer laugh nor smile. Sometimes I imagine I was paralysed and they could walk. I’d rather have it this way."
Munem Adnan Abdullah, 38, father of four children, two of which, aged 4 and 5, are both severely disabled and were born after the 2004 battles. Fallujah – January 8, 2011