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Remember the deaths and casualties when debating Iraq
20 August 2002
As Australian policy makers and the public weigh the pros and cons of supporting an illegal US attack on Iraq, it is important for people to take into consideration the public health costs of the first war on the people of Iraq.
The book War and Public Health published in 2000 by the American Public Health Association reported sobering casualty estimates. The more than 80,000 tons of explosives dropped by coalition forces led by the US killed between 50,000 and 100,000 Iraqi soldiers.
Thousands of civilians were killed during the campaign, and 9,000 homes were destroyed. The civilian death toll in 1991 - after the massive bombing campaign was stopped - rose to 111,000 people. Of these deaths, 70,000 were children under 15 years of age. This number is even higher when counting the continual bombing runs conducted by the US and the UK since 1998.
These deaths were caused by health effects resulting from the destruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure, especially electricity-generating power plants, which led to a breakdown in water purification and sanitation. This breakdown caused outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, malaria, polio, and hepatitis.
UNICEF has reported that over a decade of economic sanctions have resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children due to malnutrition, diarrhea, and other preventable diseases.
Nearly 400 US and allied military personnel were killed in the Gulf War, and some 25,000 veterans are suffering from "Gulf War Syndrome", including the effects of depleted uranium used in munitions.
If the US even considers using a 'mini-nuke', it would be an act in violation of international law. If the target were a bunker in Baghdad, there would be roughly 20 000 innocent people in the radius of total lethality of the explosion.
We ask that all Australians keep the human costs of war in mind as they debate Australia's support to the US. Entering the debate should also be the fact that UNSCOM qualitatively disarmed Iraq of weapons of mass destruction before the US ordered withdrawal of inspectors in December 1998, two days before the United States began bombing Iraq. An attack on Iraq has no demonstrated connection to the terrorism of 11 September.
Medical Association for Prevention of War, Australia (MAPW), Press Release