NATO War On Yugoslavia: DU Bombs Still Claim Lives 13 Years After
March 24, 2012
Serbia Marks 13th Anniversary of NATO Agression, DU Bombs Still Claim Lives
By Ljubica Vujadinovic
Belgrade: Today marks the 13th anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. In the 78-day long aggression, which involved 19 NATO states, 3,500 people were killed and more than 12,500 injured.
The operation, led by the US and UK, which was conducted without UN Security Council approval, was meant to force Serbian forces out of Kosovo and protect Albanian civilians in the province. However, the bombing of the whole Serbian territory, especially intensive in Kosovo, resulted in 2,500 civilians deaths, including 79 children. Kosovo Albanians accounted more than half of the casualties.
Infrastructure, schools, institutions buildings, and many residential areas were destroyed all over the country. The material damage of the NATO campaign has been assessed between $30 million and $100 million.
The NATO campaign ended in June 1999 when Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo, and the province was put under interim UN administration. Nine years later, in February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.
Meanwhile, around 1,500 Serbs in the province were killed, more than 1,500 were kidnapped or went missing, and 250,000 Serbs were forced to leave.
Depleted Uranium: NATO Bombs Remain Deadly
Meanwhile, 13 years after the bombing Serbia still struggles with the contamination from ammunitions containing depleted uranium.
In the Vranje area, which is surrounded by four known DU contaminated locations, there has been an enormous increase in cancer rates – from 185 in the year 2000 to 398 new diagnosis in 2006, and a large number of newborns with genetic malformations.
“In 1998, 21 children were born with deformities. In 2008 there were 73,” Nela Cvetkovic, a Member of the Vranje City Council, said. The number of newborn didn’t change, it is about 800-1000 babies per year, she added.
At the same time in Kosovo, Doctor Nebojsa Srbljak, who researches the health consequences of the bombing on civil population, accused NATO of using so-called dirty bombs.
“We first started researching when we found traces of Iodine 131 in the tissue extracted from one patient,” he said, adding that Iodine 131, also known as radio iodine, is well known as a major factor in the negative health consequences of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.
In Kosovo, foreign personnel has been warned to stay clear of those areas unless equipped with full radiological protective clothing. But no one warned civilians.
“We, the doctors know what it is; politicians are silent to please their mentors. But the people are in the worst position as there are new cancer cases among young persons every day,” said doctor Srbljak, adding that the data on health statistics of Albanian population is completely unavailable.
Ljubica Vujadinovic is based in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.