FJA 2020 Shortlist

Category: Outstanding Contribution to Peace


Mizar Kemal (Turkey)             

The Endless War: Iraq's Heavy Legacy of Depleted Uranium


December 30, 2019

The original publication is available via the following link:

In a remote and far village, with no paved roads, and mostly mud-brick houses, 16-year-old Ahmed Daoud goes every day to play football with his friends, in a dirt yard near the palm grove on the edge of the impoverished village of Khalil Al-Husseinawi. But the boys stopped playing for several days in April 2003 because of the heavy shelling of tank and anti-aircraft positions by the Iraqi army in the orchard and around the village (south of Diyala province) to hide from US aircrafts.

After the shelling stopped, Ahmad and his friends returned to play football, and the view of the damaged tanks was not worrying for them; as long as the planes would not return to the skies of the village; but what the young players did not know was that they were dying in the palm grove, in the burning tanks bombed with depleted uranium, and in the dust they inhale running after the ball.

Six months have passed since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, during which much has changed in Iraq, as well as in the village of Khalil Al-Husseinawi, where Ahmad lives with his family, while playing in that dirt arena, Ahmed fell to the ground, and this was his last reign with football, which he would never be able to kick and pass to his friends again.

After many reviews of private hospitals and doctors’ clinics, Ahmed was found to have lymphoma, in a video we got from a special source in the Diyala Health Department archive, dating back to 2011, Ahmed appeared as his hair has fallen, and the symptoms of the disease appeared as he talks about his health, which is getting worse day by day, stressing that the doctors he consulted directly attributed the cause of cancer to radiation exposure.

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