New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

October 30 2009

Migrant workers in Israel’s agriculture sector are among the most exploited, according to a 28 October report by Kav LaOved, an Israeli NGO campaigning for the rights of disadvantaged workers in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Ninety percent of such workers work more hours than allowed under Israeli law, without overtime payments, said the report, which has been presented to members of parliament.

The report summarizes hundreds of complaints by agricultural workers and dozens of inspections by Kav LaOved volunteers at work sites around the country, and paints a grim picture of systematic exploitation and severe violations of workers’ rights in the agricultural sector.

Hanna Zohar, Kav LaOved director, said the workers, mostly Thai, are completely unaware of their rights.

“Having paid US $8-10,000 to work in Israel, they are prime material for abuse by the farmers, as they are afraid to lose their jobs and not able to pay off the loans taken to cover these payments to the middlemen,” Zohar said.

The launch of the report has been timed to coincide with the current campaign by farmers for additional permits for migrant workers, and is intended to further public debate on the issue.

Farmers have been demonstrating for more permits in recent weeks and there have been violent clashes with the police.

Some 30,000 migrant workers are employed in the agricultural sector, mostly from Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some from the Palestinian Authority, according to Kav LaOved and official figures from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour.

The Thai workers come from rural areas after paying middlemen in Thailand and Israel, and most work in remote and isolated locations, unaware of their legal rights, according to Kav LaOved’s research done in the past year.

The report said it is common practice in many agri-businesses to dock leave, and some employers give workers only one day off a month.

Employers who withhold passports – strongly condemned by the legal authorities – are still commonplace, according to Kav LaOved and Moked, another NGO which campaigns for the rights of migrants.

Since the beginning of 2009, 10 percent of agricultural workers (2,950) have been injured, the report said.

Harsh living conditions

Evidence of harsh living conditions and demeaning treatment crop up routinely in Kav LaOved’s inspection reports.

At a visit to one farm, IRIN found some workers living at a potato crop disposal site, in a small, stifling container. Workers told IRIN they cannot leave as they must pay off huge debts in their home countries.

The Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour spokespersons’ unit said: “The department of foreign workers has been investigating private manpower and building cooperatives to prevent [the] charging [of] migrant workers sums that exceed those allowed by lawâEuro¦ In 2009, dozens of licenses were revokedâEuro¦ We ask Kav LaOved to work jointly with the attorney in charge of foreign workers’ rights in the ministry, Iris Maayan, and allow the different enforcement factors in GOI [Government of Israel] offices to work more efficiently. The issue is of great importance for the Ministry.”

Source

Migrant caregivers in Israel – report to the UN Migrant Workers Convention
by: Kav LaOved

Migrant caregivers in Israel:

problems and recommendations

General background

All elderly and disabled Israeli citizens who meet disability criteria set by the Israeli National Insurance Institute are allowed to employ a domestic migrant caregiver with National Insurance subsidy. The number of permits available to employ migrant caregivers in Israel today stands at about 55,000. It is illegal to employ domestic migrant workers other than as caregivers. Most migrant caregivers in Israel come from south east Asia (Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal), and some from eastern Europe (former soviet union, Romania). The vast majority of migrant caregivers in Israel are women.

The legal status of migrant workers in Israel depends on their active employment by a person with a migrant caregiver employment permit. Workers who lose their work due to dismissal, quitting or employer death must find new legal employment within at most 90 days or leave the country. As will be explained below, most employers prefer to bring new migrant workers from abroad, rather than employ a worker who is already in Israel. The result is that the number of migrant workers who entered Israel with a legal migrant caregiver visa, and whose maximum period of legal work in Israel (63 months) has not expired, is 10,000-40,000 higher than the number of available permits (55,000). Migrant caregivers who have lost their legal status are usually employed illegally in domestic work.

Since the beginning of 2009 the employment of migrant caregivers must be arranged through a certified Israeli migrant caregiver placement agency, which shares with the employer the responsibility for the rights of the migrant caregiver. These agencies cooperate with overseas agents to recruit workers.

Problems

  1. Brokerage fees

Migrant caregivers in Israel are charged a brokerage fee typically ranging between $6,000 and $13,000 in order to get a legal migrant caregiver visa. This charge is illegal according to Israeli law, but no effective enforcement is conducted to prevent it. This money is shared between recruiters in countries of origin and Israeli job brokers.

Brokerage fees encourage brokers to bring new paying workers from abroad, rather than assign to work migrants already in Israel. This creates a surplus of migrant caregivers in Israel, which enables reduction of wages and exploitation.

Brokerage fees force workers to go into debt. The interest rates are high gray market rates, and many workers mortgage their property to raise the money. Failure to repay the debt puts the life and livelihood of the worker and her family in danger. This debt, therefore, prevents workers from returning to their countries of origin before earning enough money to repay the debt, even if it means working illegally.

  1. The binding arrangement

Migrant caregivers in Israel must be actually employed by a permit carrying employer to retain their legal status. Migrant workers are thus bound to their employer, and work termination means a threat of deportation. This arrangement was declared a “modern form of slavery” by Israel’s High Court of Justice already in 2006, but the State has not essentially changed this arrangement. Last year the State was found guilty of contempt of teh court.

For further information on the legal status of migrant workers in Israel see:

http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2275, http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2263

  1. Fraud and labor rights violations

The high brokerage fees are an incentive to bring migrant caregivers into Israel even if there is no work awaiting them. This results in the type of fraud called “flying visa”: a worker is brought into Israel legally, but the broker who brought her does not provide her with work. Given the surplus of migrant caregivers in Israel, the worker is unlikely to find alternative employment, and risks losing her legal status and being deported before repaying her debt.

Another kind of fraud is “open visa”: an employer who has a migrant worker employment permit, but who does not actually require the service, registers a migrant caregiver as legally employed for a fee and/or services, while the worker actually makes a living by other means (usually illegal cleaning or au-pair work for other employers). If authorities expose this fraud, the worker will lose her legal status and be deported. This fact allows employers to extort ever increasing sums of money for the “open visa” they provide, and sometimes leads to debt bondage situations, where migrant workers keep getting into debt to hold on to their visa.

The reality of a surplus of migrant caregivers in situations of debt and threatened loss of legal status forces workers to accept illegally low salaries, withheld pay, non payment of social benefits and forced overtime. Workers are sometimes forced to do work that’s not related to their job description, such as cleaning for family members. In some cases workers must accept poor lodging and food, confinement, threats and violence, and some workers are even forced to provide sexual services. Such circumstances may amount to trafficking and forced labor.

State enforcement mechanisms are usually highly inefficient. Investigations are poorly conducted due to low prioritization and lack of adequate, reliable and objective translation services (this extends to courts as well). Sanctions are rarely set on employers; if sanctions are set, they are usually restricted to fines too small to deter offenders. Confiscation of migrant worker employment permits of abusive and delinquent employers is extremely rare. This means that repeated offenders can continue employing migrant caregivers.

While crimes against migrant workers are not properly tried and sanctioned, Israel invests in a 200 inspector task force to hunt down and deport migrant workers who lost their legal status, including those who lost it due to fraud, exploitation and abuse

This encourages further abuse of migrant workers, as employers can count on the victims being deported, rather than confronting them in court.

For further information concerning crimes against migrant workers and inadequate enforcement see: http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2337,

http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2094

1. Suitability for work

Some workers come to work in Israel as caregivers, but speak no English or Hebrew, and are therefore unable to communicate with most prospective employers. These workers are likely to lose their jobs and legal status, and find themselves deported and in debt. Some workers are not physically strong enough to lift and move heavy patients. These workers are also less likely than others to find legal employment, and therefore risk deportation.

2. Work load and overtime

Migrant workers in Israel are usually paid for 8 hours of work per day. In fact, most of them are either employed or on call for 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. The legal status of overtime and on-call hours is not resolved, and the issue is deliberated at the High Court of Justice.

The lack of clear definitions of work, overtime and on-call hours leads to situations where some workers are forced to actively work to exhaustion, caring for several family members and cleaning large households. The situation is aggravated where migrant caregivers have to care for more than one patient who requires constant care (such as a married couple of disabled people in a poor health situation).

3. Health, safety and social security

Most migrant caregivers in Israel are employed or on call 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. The intimate circumstances of domestic work make the boundaries between employer and employee vague. This may result in positive family-like relations, but can also deteriorate to sexual harassment and exploitation.

Migrant caregivers are often left alone with a single care patient, and have no access to friends and community life. Sometimes they are strictly prohibited from leaving the home where they work except to accompany their employer to receive medical care. This puts great mental stress on migrant caregivers. The result is a higher than usual rate of mental problems and nervous breakdowns, which in rare occasions result in violent treatment of helpless patients.

Many migrant workers have to lift heavy patients several times a day, and carry them between the bed, chair, toilet, bath and car or taxi. This puts great strain on the worker’s muscles and back, and leads to severe injuries that may result in permanent damage.

The mandatory health insurance for migrant workers in Israel is far inferior to the insurance provided to Israeli citizens and residents by law, and expires if a worker becomes incapable of working for three months or longer. In such cases insurance companies can send the worker off to her country of origin, where adequate care may not be accessible. Many insurance companies prefer this solution over actually covering costly medical care.

Workers’ right to social security is very limited, and is covered only partially by the National insurance law, even if workers reside in Israel for many years. Pension rights, social security and health insurance are not coordinated in bilateral agreements between Israel and countries of origin. This results in lack of continuity of insurance coverage.

4. Family

Migrant workers in Israel may work in Israel legally for up to 63 months. If they continue working for the same employer, they can continue working indefinitely. Nevertheless, migrant workers do not gain the right for family reunification regardless of their duration of stay.

In fact, if the Interior Ministry finds that a migrant worker has a close relative working in Israel, or has coupled with another migrant worker (whether actually married or not), one of the related workers will lose their legal status and be deported. Relatives of migrant workers can’t even travel to visit the workers in Israel. Migrant workers who have children lose their work permits and must leave Israel within 3 months of giving birth. For further information see: http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/tal/No%20state%20for%20love.doc

Migrant workers require permission from employers to visit their country of origin. Without such permission, the worker might not be allowed to return to Israel, even if she has not completed the maximum period of 63 months of work. Employers sometime refuse, as they would require replacement care. As a result some patients must choose between continuing their work in Israel and visiting a dying relative or attending a family occasion.

5. Residency and citizenship

Migrant workers, even if they reside lawfully in Israel for many years, do not have the right to acquire permanent legal status in the country. As a result, workers may face deportation after two decades or more of lawfully residing in Israel, if their employer passes away or the employment relationship is otherwise terminated.

Israel does not see itself in any way bound to recognize migrant workers’ children right to gain lawful status in the country. As a result, a group of migrant workers’ children reside in Israel without documented status, which severely restricts their access to basic rights.

Recommendations:

1. As long as a worker’s legal status is linked to her active employment, employers can extort migrant workers to accept exploitation and abuse. The legal status of migrant workers must be completely independent from their work situation, and they must be free to choose their employer from among those allowed to employ migrant workers.

2. Exuberant brokerage fees lead to debt bondage and force workers to accept exploitation. The recruitment of migrant workers must therefore be taken away from private brokers and handled by State agents or international agents such as the IOM. Close scrutiny must be taken to prevent corruption and illegal collection of brokerage fees.

3. The State must share in the responsibility to provide workers with employment opportunities. If the number of workers allowed legal entry for work in a specific sector exceeds the number of prospective legal posts, migrant workers must be allowed to work in other sectors, or provided with unemployment benefits.

4. Mass deportation of migrant workers encourages their exploiters to force workers into illegal situations and have them deported, rather than confront the workers’ legitimate claims. Enforcement must therefore prioritize protection of the human and labor rights of migrant workers, severely sanction abusive employers, and revoke the migrant worker employment permits of repeated offenders. Enforcement agents must have access to adequate and reliable interpreters.

5. Work load, overtime and on call time must be well defined for domestic work, so that general work time laws can be applied.

6. Migrant workers’ health and safety must be protected by adequate insurance, which covers extended disability, and subject to social worker scrutiny.

7. Migrant workers must be allowed enough free time and mobility to associate with their friends and conduct healthy community life.

8. Migrant workers’ right to family life must be acknowledged, especially when a worker remains in the country of destination for an extended period of time. Long term migrant workers and their families must have access to permanent residency and citizenship.

9. There must be active and efficient bilateral cooperation between countries of origin and Israel aimed at protecting workers from exploitation and abuse through all stages of their migration, from recruitment to repatriation. In particular, social security and health insurance must be rendered continuous, and the recruitment process must verify that workers can communicate with prospective employers and are physically able to do the required job.

10. Israel must sign and ratify and obey the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the members of their Families.

Source

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Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking

Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of trafficking

A group of Nepalese men living rough near Baghdad airport in the hope of finding work at a US military base are victims of human trafficking, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said yesterday.
The Geneva-based body is also looking into the case of another 1,000 workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Nepal who were kept in three, drab warehouses in the airport zone for up to three months by a subcontractor to Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a service provider to US forces.
“I am very much worried because we have been highlighting this problem for some time,” Rafiq Tschannen, the IOM’s Chief of Mission to Iraq, told The Times.
Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad6
These eight people live in the small shack behind them

The 58 Nepalese men and a handful of Indians were brought in by agents in their home country who took about 5,000 dollars off each person in exchange for flights to Baghdad and the promise of work, which never materialized.
Instead the agents disappeared and the men have been forced to live for weeks in makeshift shelters of wooden planks, cardboard and blankets. They survive on food and water donated by passing Iraqis and fellow migrants who have jobs.
“These are trafficking cases,” Mr Tschannen said. “It looks like they have been smuggled into the country in the hope that KBR would pick them up.”
Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad8
Two men cook rice donated by sympathetic passers-by

The IOM provided eight of the destitute Nepalese men with plane tickets home and is ready to help more, although some have found work in the secured airport zone, which is home to a large US military base and a number of other entities.
A lack of funds, however, means the IOM is unable to assist larger groups of migrant workers such as the 1,000 men in the warehouses who were brought to Iraq, also by agents, to work for Najlaa International Catering Services, a Kuwait-based subcontractor to KBR.
These men were left in an overcrowded warehouse compound with poor food, broken toilets and no salary after contracts, anticipated by Najlaa, to provide catering services at US military dining halls fell through.
Mr Tschannen said cases of human trafficking by agents are common place throughout the world, with many migrant workers choosing to travel to European shores on the promise of employment only to end up jobless and penniless.
Nepalese_and_indian_squatters
About 20 people are living rough under this shelter

European governments have mechanisms in place to help, he said, an option that is not so readily available in a conflict zone like Iraq. Also, “in the case of Iraq, it is not like they can go to town and look for a job themselves”, he added.
The prospect of a salary of up to 800 dollars a month, a good wage in their home country, entices thousand of Asian workers to risk the perils of war and come to Iraq. They provide a range of services at US bases, such as catering and laundry, freeing up soldiers to concentrate on other tasks.
Nepalese_squatter
One Nepalese man sits in his makeshift home

Mr Tschannen said the migrant workforce is just “like any other commodity”. Agents bring in excess numbers, he explained, to be able to provide firms with labour instantaneously rather then having to wait to fly them in from overseas.
“These people should only be brought in when they have the final contract from the people who will be using them,” he said.
He plans to report the case of the in the warehouses to IOM headquarters in the hope of being able to encourage donor countries to offer funds to help such people, while noting that it was ultimately the responsibility of the contractor.
The best option would be to give each person trafficked to Iraq, but unable to find work, a ticket home and extra money to erase any debts incurred paying an agent to travel to Baghdad in the first place. This money would also help a person to reintegrate into his community, Mr Tschannen added.

Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad3
A Nepalese man uses water to wash clothes.

Source

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of Slavery From August 29 2008 Video and Story

Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm  Comments Off on Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking  
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141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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