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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April, 2003, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Bid to help Iraqi cancer children
Iraqi woman and child
Iraqi children will be helped by the charity
A major appeal has been launched to help thousands of Iraqi children suffering from leukaemia.

Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger and R&B star Ms Dynamite helped launch the Hope Foundation Organisation.

It claims more than 10,000 cases of childhood leukaemia have been reported in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War.

Previous research has claimed that Allied forces' use of depleted uranium weapons in that conflict were among the factors to blame for the reported rise in cases.

What are we going to do for children who are suffering from leukaemia?
Bianca Jagger, human rights campaigner
Depleted uranium is used to produce missiles which can penetrate armoured vehicles or underground bunkers.

The non-for-profit organisation is calling on the Prime Minister to help sick Iraqi children, who have a lower chance of surviving their cancer than children in the UK.

Needs

The Hope Foundation Organisation aims to raise money and awareness to help children with leukaemia in all countries affected by war, but has set up a special emergency fund for those in Iraq, to be distributed by the British charity Medical Aid for Iraqi Children (MAIC).

The money will fund medical equipment and drugs for leukaemia victims.

It will also sell green ribbons to raise awareness about the situation in Iraq and is planning a campaign in schools.

Ms Jagger said: "Since hospitals are being looted and there is no law and order in Iraq, what are we going to do for children who are suffering from leukaemia and to bring medicine?

"My question to Tony Blair and President George Bush is yes, he is bringing democracy.

"But in the meantime, how is he going to respond to the needs for medicine and the supply and delivery of humanitarian aid."

Cancer rates

There have been claims cancer rates in Iraq have soared since 1991.

A recent report by Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for South East England, claimed Iraqi children were now seven times more likely to be born with leukaemia or birth defects than before the first Gulf War.

Her report "Depleted Uranium and Health: Incidence and Pattern of Abnormalities Among Births in Basra 1990 - 2001", showed the incidence of congenital malformations per 1,000 births rose from 3.04 in 1991 to 22.19 in 2001.

And researchers at Al-Mustansiriya University and the University of Basra found that childhood leukaemia in and around the city had doubled in the last 10 years.

The total number suffering from malignant diseases such as brain tumours and cancer of the nervous system rose three fold from 1990 to 1999.


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