Letter: Iraq legacy

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WITHOUT wishing to detract from Robert Fisk's excellent reports from Iraq I feel compelled to point out that the reference in your leader to "Robert Fisk's discovery" ("Deadly legacies of war", 5 March) concerning cancer in southern Iraq is inaccurate.

The possible links between the use of depleted uranium (DU) ordnance by the allied forces in the 1991 Gulf "war" and the increase in the number of childhood cancers in Kuwait and southern Iraq have been known for a long time. Thus a secret 1991 report for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority suggested that there was enough DU in these areas to cause "500,000 potential deaths".

The report also stated that "It is in both the Kuwait and UK interest that this is not left to rear its head in years to come."

Last May the former US attorney general Ramsey Clark's group, The International Action Center, published a book Metal of Dishonor on the subject.

What is true is that, by and large, the media has shown little interest in reporting the suffering of the Iraqi people - despite the fact that our government is in large part responsible for its continuation. I hope the front-page headline ("Iraqi children are dying - you can save them", 6 March) doesn't give people the false impression that by sending money to your appeal they can have any serious impact on this suffering. If they really want to help they should organise within their local communities to put pressure on the Government to change its immoral policy.


Junior Research Fellow

Magdalen College