36th HRC Session: Oral statement on toxic remnants of war in Iraq
On 13 September 2017, Human Rights Now gave an oral statement on the negative health impacts of toxic remnants of war in Iraq for the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Iraqis have suffered from the toxic remnants of decades-long conflict. This continues to cause serious health problems, particularly for children.
Depleted uranium munitions and other toxic weapons used by US and coalition forces expose civilians to low-level radiation and toxic heavy metals. All forces, and particularly US forces, leave behind toxic waste dumps and equipment. Open air burn pits for waste disposal by US forces emitted toxic smoke.
Human Rights Now’s fact-finding mission found reports of increased birth deformities, cancer, and illnesses associated with toxic exposure in conflict areas since 2003. Around 15% of all births in Fallujah since 2003 have some form of congenital birth defect. Fallujah General Hospital recorded 363 cases of congenital anomalies for births in 2012. However, there have not been sufficient investigations of the consequences of toxic munitions by the US, UK, or UN.
Furthermore, ISIS has been suspected of using chemical weapons and, in October 2016, bombing a sulfur plant near Mosul, releasing chemical materials and harming hundreds of civilians.
Human Rights Now calls on all parties responsible to immediately cease the release of toxic remnants of war. We urge the Iraqi government to conduct a comprehensive investigation of environmental contamination and health impacts nationwide and to take necessary measures to protect the civilians’ right to health. The US, UK, and Iraqi governments must disclose all information regarding the types of weapons used. We urge the UN Special Rapporteur on toxic wastes and on the right to health to conduct official visits to investigate the human rights situation related to the use of toxic remnants of war in Iraq.