- The US-led allied forces deliberately destroyed Iraq's
water supply during the Gulf War - flagrantly breaking the Geneva Convention
and causing thousands of civilian deaths.
- Since the war ended in 1991 the allied nations have made
sure than any attempts to make contaminated water safe have been thwarted.
- A respected American professor now intends to convene
expert hearings in a bid to pursue criminal indictments under international
law against those responsible.
- Professor Thomas J Nagy, Professor of Expert Systems
at George Washington University with a doctoral fellowship in public health,
told the Sunday Herald: "Those who saw nothing wrong in producing
[this plan], those who ordered its production and those who knew about
it and have remained silent for 10 years would seem to be in violation
of Federal Statute and perhaps have even conspired to commit genocide."
- Professor Nagy obtained a minutely detailed seven-page
document prepared by the US Defence Intelligence Agency, issued the day
after the war started, entitled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities and
circulated to all major allied Commands.
- It states that Iraq had gone to considerable trouble
to provide a supply of pure water to its population. It had to depend
on importing specialised equipment and purification chemicals, since water
is "heavily mineralised and frequently brackish".
- The report stated: "Failing to secure supplies will
result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population.
This could lead to increased incidents, if not epidemics, of disease and
certain pure-water dependent industries becoming incapacitatedÉ"
- The report concludes: "Full degradation of the
water treatment system probably will take at least another six months."
- During allied bombing campaigns on Iraq the country's
eight multi-purpose dams had been repeatedly hit, simultaneously wrecking
flood control, municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and
hydroelectric power. Four of seven major pumping stations were destroyed,
as were 31 municipal water and sewerage facilities - 20 in Baghdad, resulting
in sewage pouring into the Tigris. Water purification plants were incapacitated
- Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states: "It
is prohibited to attack, destroy or render useless objects indispensable
to the survival of the civilian population" and includes foodstuffs,
livestock and "drinking water supplies and irrigation works".
- The results of the allied bombing campaign were obvious
when Dr David Levenson visited Iraq immediately after the Gulf War, on
behalf of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
- He said: "For many weeks people in Baghdad - without
television, radio, or newspapers to warn them - brought their drinking
water from the Tigris, in buckets.
- "Dehydrated from nausea and diarrhoea, craving liquids,
they drank more of the water that made them sick in the first place."
- Water-borne diseases in Iraq today are both endemic and
epidemic. They include typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, cholera and polio
(which had previously been eradicated), along with a litany of others.
- A child with dysentery in 1990 had a one in 600 chance
of dying - in 1999 it was one in 50.
- The then US Navy Secretary John Lehman estimated that
200,000 Iraqis died in the Gulf War. Dr Levenson estimates many thousands
died from polluted water.
- Chlorine and essential equipment parts needed to repair
and clear the water system have been banned from entering the country
under the UN "hold"system.
- Ohio Democrat Representative Tony Hall has written to
American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, saying he shares concerns
expressed by Unicef about the "profound effects the deterioration
of Iraq's water supply and sanitation systems on children's health".
Diarrhoeal diseases he says are of "epidemic proportions" and
are "the prime killer of children under five".
- "Holds on contracts for water and sanitation are
a prime reason for the increase in sickness and death." Of 18 contracts,
wrote Hall, all but one on hold were placed by the government in the US.
- Contracts were for purification chemicals, chlorinators,
chemical dosing pumps, water tankers and other water industry related
- "If water remains undrinkable, diseases will continue
and mortality rates will rise," said the Iraqi trade minister Muhammed
Mahdi Salah. The country's health ministry said that more than 10,000
people died in July of embargo-related causes - 7457 were children, with
diarrhoeal diseases one of the prime conditions.
- In July 1989, the figure was 378. Unicef does not dispute
- The problem will not be helped by plans for the giant
Ilisu Dam project (to which the British government is to give £200
million in export credit guarantees), which will give Turkey entire control
of the water flow to Iraq and Syria.
- Constructors Balfour Beatty write in their environmental
impact report, that for the three years of construction, water flow to
Iraq will be reduced by 40%. Iraq has also suffered a three year drought,
with the Tigris the lowest in living memory.
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