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Sunday, February 16, 2003

BBC NewsOnline's Alex Kirby has produced a compelling summary of the environmental consequences of the 1990-1991 Gulf War based on a dossier of information, maps + photographs that Birdlife International has sent to the government in Baghdad and to the five UN Security Council permanent members - China, France, Russia, the UK + the US.

Highlighted environmental threats include:
* Physical destruction + disturbance from the use of weapons
* Toxic pollution from oil spills or oil well fires through fighting or deliberate damage
* Radiological, chemical or toxic contamination from the use of weapons of mass destruction or conventional bombing of military or industrial sites
* Physical destruction of wildlife + habitats because of increased human pressure caused by mass movements of refugees.

BirdLife says the 1991 war saw by far the largest marine oil spills in history, with 6 - 8 million barrels of crude oil spilled, severely polluting 560 kilometres (350 miles) of coast, and totally obliterating intertidal ecosystems".

Due to the deliberate destruction of the marshes by Iraq, the bandicoot rat + a sub-species of otter are also believed to have been driven to extinction and on the human scale, the Ma'dan people who have lived in the marshes for 5,000 years have lost their traditional homeland.