Italy agrees to €170m Veteran compensation package
In early December, the Italian Ministry of Defence gave evidence to the Italian parliament for a second time over concerns about the level of cancers in Italian troops and peacekeepers. The Commission on DU, based in the Senate, heard that the latest estimate of cancer victims has risen to 77 dead and 312 ill.
There has been considerable disquiet in Italy recently over the number of young and otherwise healthy service personnel who have succumbed to cancers after serving in Iraq and the Balkans between 1996 and 2006.
Veterans' groups such as Osservatorio Militare claim that the figures are an underestimate and that the Ministry has included conflicts where there is no firm evidence of DU use, and is excluding others. Lebanon is included, yet the Ministry has already denied, in an answer to a parliamentary question, that Italian soldiers are exposed to DU there. Activists believe that either the Ministry is aware of some additional information, or it's trying to dilute the data.
The Italian Ministry of Defence still claims that there is no proven link between DU and ill health, yet a large compensation package has been agreed to, with money available for soldiers and their families. The decision is akin to work-related injury claims as the Ministry cannot exclude the possibility that they have developed cancer as a result of their army service. The total compensation package is worth EUR170m and has been funded by a specific law that was passed recently.
A further EUR10m has been set aside to fund a group of experts who will study the DU issue further. This group will include Italian scientists who have been particularly active on the DU issue, such as Antonietta Gatti, Valerio Gennaro and Massimo Zucchetti. Finally, the Ministry has ensured that it will take care of providing information to the UN as requested by the recent ICBUW UN resolution.