The Truth Of Iraq’s City Of Deformed BabiesPosted: September 2, 2009
by Lisa Holland, foreign affairs correspondent
First Published: Sep. 01, 2009 – Sky News
An Iraqi doctor has told Sky News the number of babies born with deformities in the heavily-bombed area of Fallujah is still on the increase.
Fifteen months ago a Sky News investigation revealed growing numbers of children being born with defects in Fallujah.
Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces.
We recently returned to find out the current situation and what has happened to some of the children we featured.
In May last year we told the story of a three-year-old girl called Fatima Ahmed who was born with two heads.
When we filmed her she seemed like a listless bundle – she lay there barely able to breathe and unable to move.
Even now and having seen the pictures many times since I still feel shocked and saddened when I look at her.
But the prognosis for Fatima never looked good and, as feared, she never made it to her fourth birthday.
Her mother Shukriya told us about the night her daughter died.
Photo: Fatima died after our first report
Wiping away her tears, Shukriya said she had put her daughter to bed as normal one night but woke with the dreadful sense that something was wrong.
She told us she felt it was her daughter’s moment to die, but of course that does not make the pain any easier.
Fatima’s father had taken his little girl’s hand but it was cold.
“She is gone,” he had said to his distraught wife.
Another girl we met last year was Tiba Aftan who was born with a huge growth across her face.
Now she is a toddler her future is looking brighter having gone to neighbouring Jordan to have it removed.
The growth had covered half of Tiba’s forehead and was invading one of her eyes – and it was getting bigger as she got older.
Although the operation was a success Tiba will need more surgery and the last trip cost her family almost every penny they have.
But since our original investigation, we have built up a new dossier of cases of deformed children in Fallujah born in the last eight months.
There are a wide range of problems – from abnormalities of the abdomen to facial disfigurements.
We have also seen pictures of all kinds of deformed foetuses which have not survived.
Fallujah was heavily bombed in 2004
There is no precise explanation as to what has caused the deformities and there are no figures to compare cases with those a decade or more ago as records were not kept during the time of Saddam Hussein.
All of our evidence is anecdotal, but repeatedly people tell us they believe the deformities must be linked to the heavy bombardment of Fallujah – a Sunni insurgent stronghold – by America in 2004.
People want an independent investigation into the impact of the kinds of weapons used – including controversial white phosphorus.
Yet even since we first started to give a voice to the calls for help from the people of Fallujah things seem to have got worse.
Dr Ahmed Uraibi, a specialist paediatrician in Fallujah, told us that the number of deformities he has dealt with has increased in the last year.
The people of Fallujah want to know how many more deformed babies there will be before someone sits up and takes notice of them.
Photograph of Tiba before and after her operation
Related: (US Army War Crimes)