/** headlines: 120.0 **/
** Topic: Kuwait silent on post-war illness **
** Written 10:26 AM Feb 5, 1996 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
From: IGC News Desk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
/* Written 10:18 PM Feb 3, 1996 by cgilbert in igc:mideast.gulf */
/* ---------- "Kuwait silent on post-war illness" ---------- */
Kuwait silent on post-war illnesses*
The leaders of Kuwait do not wish to cause public fear concerning whether or not the oil fire smoke spewed into the air during 1991 from the burning wells caused any long term illnesses. This goal is apparently accomplished by their refusing to make any in-depth systematic study which compares pre-Gulf War rates of illness with current rates of illness. People in Kuwait believe there is an overall increase in illnesses, notably skin ailments, but have no proof. This is according to a Reuters story out of Kuwait (1/16/96).
A senior scientist in Kuwait believes there is excessive secretiveness. Kuwait has a responsibility also tell expatriates who rushed in to help rebuild the country about any health risks they may have run, said Yacoub al-Sultan, assistant director general of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR).
The Reuters article quoted him as saying "Authorities have not wanted to tell the people the extent of the damage . . . To me this is disastrous . . . We must tell the people about the consequences of this barbaric attack by Iraq . . . Are our children safe? I, as a human being, have not been told anything as yet."
Scientists believe they would find an increase in rates of cancer and respiratory illnesses, says Reuter, but the very same article strangely concluded there was no increase in cancer rates. It also concluded there was nothing there equivalent to the Gulf War Syndrome reported in the U.S. and Britain. It quoted Sultan as praising the governments of the two countries for recognizing the Gulf War Syndrome. Apparently it looks different from Kuwait than it does to observers in the U.S. and Britain, where it appears more like the illness is being covered up than recognized.
Sultan is a research chemist. He is involved in developing the state-funded policies of the Institute on science and technology research. KISR conducts "environmental, industrial and petroleum research, often with a commercial slant, but has no mandate to study health issues" according to Reuters.
According to Sultan, an independent group of doctors and himself requested the government's permission to study for one year the incidence of several diseases in Kuwait before and after the oil well fires were ignited. They want to know if there is a link between public health and the oilfires smoke which went into the air.
Their proposed investigation would assess the cost of treating the illnesses judged to be caused from the fires, in order to submit its costs to the U.N. commission which is coordinating claims for damages from the occupation. The Kuwaiti government has not yet decided whether to allow the study to be carried out. The government says its own research has been adequate and they would carry out more if there was a need for it.
The Reuters article said a number of scientists privately believe that Kuwait's own research into war-related illness has been unfocused and uncoordinated. Official backing has not been warm. It seems as if their policy is not unlike the U.S. in some matters ... if we don't study it, it doesn't exist.
All copyright laws apply. From 1/96 Gulf War Issue of Blazing Tattles. Other articles in issue: Exclusive on Gulf War Illness (GWI); Analysis of recent GWI reports; What happened to Kuwait's oil lakes?; Kuwait silent on post-war illnesses; Gulf fires created chemical weapons; DU: Dead children, sick soldiers; "Father of Environmental Illness" dies; Is the globe heating up?; Award winning biological food program; Workshop on nitrogen and ecosystems; Thank you Dupont, Mellon, & Hearst; Conference on biological carbon sinks; Symposium on heart, nerves & environment; A conservative speaks on sustainability; Bioregionalism; Conference on international env. law; Sleeping in petroleum wastes?; A book for just about everyone; Pesticides and culinary insects.
Claire W. Gilbert, Ph.D., Publisher, Blazing Tattles, P.O. Box
1073, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA, Email: