Report from Amman roundtable on depleted uranium
Growing awareness of the uranium weapons issue has seen increased interest from states and international organisations working on environmental protection, demining and humanitarian relief in working together for the protection of the people of Iraq. Of particular interest has been an assessment of whether the current post-conflict response to uranium weapon contamination is adequate and capable of reducing the risks to human and environmental health.
The purpose of the Amman event was to bring together a range of different actors with experience working in Iraq to help build up a picture of the current and historical response to DU, and to exchange expertise to help inform the development of a new work programme focusing on the country.
Iraq's former Environment Minister Mrs Nermin Othman
We were particularly grateful to Iraq’s former Environment Minister Mrs Nermin Othman for attending and sharing her considerable knowledge with the conference. Other attendees included Norwegian Peoples Aid, the UN Development Programme, ICRC, physicians from Basrah, Norwegian Church Aid and many others.
Following an opening from Mrs Nermin Othman on day one of the event, topics on the agenda included a general introduction to uranium weapons; a discussion of health assessments; a look at the history of DU clearance in Iraq and an assessment of the current standards for dealing with DU in the field.
Day two focused more on practical approaches to help resolve areas of concern and develop means to gather and share information amongst local and international organisations.
It was clear from the meeting that working in Iraq presents considerable challenges, and we were grateful for the sobering assessments provided by many of the attendees. Nevertheless, the event allowed us to identify areas that could be addressed with a modest increase in our organisational capacity and through cooperation with other organisations.
While we are still assessing all the issues that were raised, one priority is to get access to existing databases of contaminated areas within Iraq and to begin working to ensure that the recording of contamination is done in a standardised way. An issue of concern was the low awareness of DU among the mine clearance community but this is something that could be addressed relatively easily.
All three sponsors of the event concluded that it had been a success and that it provided a solid foundation for future work in Iraq. ICBUW and IKV Pax Christi were delighted to be able to cooperate on the event with NGO Coordinating Committee-Iraq and look forward to future work together. NCC-Iraq published and distributed a report on DU weapons amongst their partners in Iraq which is available below.
- 2045 Kb - Format pdfNCCI - Source: http://www.ncciraq.org/images/stories/NCCI-DB/NCCIPublications/NCCIStudies/NCCIBriefDUMunitionsHumanHealthinIraq.pdfNCCI’s brief provides an overview of what appear to be widespread, and often lethal, health effects from war contaminants in Iraq, namely Depleted Uranium (DU). Clearing DU-contaminated war remnants from areas across Iraq, as well as providing support to Iraqi victims of DU contamination, are critical issues for rebuilding this war-torn nation. NCCI published this paper with information and eye-witness testimony from doctors, researchers, NGOs leaders, and activists in the field who are struggling to respond to Iraq’s ostensibly growing health crisis and raise the international community’s awareness concerning apparent Iraqi DU victims’ plight.