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Iraqi child cancer 'linked to US weapons'. The Ethics of Modern War: Iraq's Deadly Legacy
DATELINE / Fouad Hady 15th August 2010
The number of deformed babies and children with leukaemia is increasing in Iraq, with locals blaming Depleted Uranium weapons used in US attacks, SBS' Dateline reports.
Seven years after the invasion of Iraq, the US is starting to withdraw its forces.
US President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw most US troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010.
He has said that between 35,000 and 50,000 US troops will remain in the country, and would gradually continue to be withdrawn until December 31, 2011.
Historians and pundits will no doubt argue for years over the impact of this history making period, but Iraqis are dealing with a more immediate and, it seems devastating legacy.
Stories are now emerging of increased deformities in the country's newborn babies as well as a dramatic rise in the number of children with cancer.
A report published in The Independent says cancers and other diseases in the city of Falluja are higher than those recorded in the survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Many are asking whether this spike could be connected to contamination caused by the use of depleted uranium in the bombs and bullets used by American forces.
SBS' Dateline program's Walkley Award winning video journalist Fouad Hady returns to his home country to see some of the deformed and desperately ill children, and meets some of the people battling against the odds to rebuild their lives, and their city.
Advisement: This film contains images that are difficult to watch.
Transcript follows, beneath the film.
Iraq's Deadly Legacy
Executive Producer Peter Charley writes for the Dateline blog about the debate behind this story from Iraq...
Our story this week on birth deformities in Iraq presented a classic broadcasting dilemma: publishing images of deformed children gives a graphic illustration of the issue, but are such confronting scenes too difficult for viewers to watch?
And if people are so disturbed by what they’re seeing that they switch Dateline off, have we lost the opportunity to deliver an important message about what’s going on in post-war Iraq?
Some Dateline producers called for the most disturbing scenes to be ‘blurred’, while others argued that ‘sanitising’ the vision would lessen the impact and weaken the story. The families of deformed children deserved their stories to be told through stark, uncensored footage, they argued.
So when does hard-core reality become too much to take? What role should a broadcaster play in shielding viewers from highly-graphic video? And is a warning at the front of a story enough of a buffer for viewers who wish to be informed, but not horrified?
We’ve chosen, in this report, to seek a path between horror and human compassion; between ‘need-to-know’ images of deformed babies and children, and the dignity that they and their families deserve. I hope you stay with us in this sometimes difficult to watch, but important story.
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