The United Nations (UN) and international aid agencies are warning that Iraqis are facing grave dangers to their health as a result of the chaos caused by war and occupation.
The UN has warned that there are up to 400 polluted sites in Iraq that are serious health hazards.
Most are located near population centres and contain hazardous chemical materials, including depleted uranium from US bombing raids.
Fuad Abdel-Sattar, an environmental researcher at the ministry of the environment, told the UN, “In addition to hundreds of polluted sites, we also have serious pollution in our rivers, lakes and portable water systems.
“But with electricity shortages in most key areas, it is impossible to pump out dirty water and treat these sites.”
According to health agencies, the number of cancer cases has increased dramatically over the past five years and over 52 percent of all cancer patients are children under five.
Aid agencies have also warned that the food distribution system set up under the former regime has collapsed, leaving 60 percent of the population without regular supplies.
The US-based Refugee International aid agency has warned that the Iraqi government is distributing ration cards according to people’s religious and political affiliation.
The Iraqi government, which is dominated by sectarian parties, is refusing to give out ration cards to Sunni Muslims.
The Kurdish-run regions in the north are also withholding cards from members of minority groups.