Dozens of children attended a concert, organized by an Iraqi charity, to raise funds for children suffering from cancer in Basra, where the number of young people infected by the disease has increased dramatically.
“We set the party today for the benefit of children, in general, the purpose of the proceeds of the party is for the children who suffered cancer because we visited the cancer hospital and we saw many cases there. Many cases need help. God willing, we hope that we will be able to help them," said Ghada Ghanim, head of the charity society that organized the event.
Children along with their family members enjoyed the evening and said they wanted to contribute in helping children cancer patients.
"We wish them recovery -- thanks to the concert that encouraged us to help them," said Um Nissreen, one of those attending the event.
"Today’s concert in Basra was to mark the Children's Day and the Nawroz -- we are happy. All the incomes that we collect will go for children who suffer from cancer. This is the first concert in Basra, and all families of different sects attended," said performer Emad al-Salman.
According to Iraqi officials the number of children suffering from cancer, deformation as well as other health problems has risen sharply in the country. Experts suspect that the long years of war have created contamination from weapons and the accompanying pollution.
The use of depleted uranium in U.S. and coalition weaponry was well documented during the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait and the 2003 the U.S. invasion of Iraq, officials said. However establishing a link between the radioactive materials and health problems among Iraqis is hard, officials said.
Basra had suffered years of war as well as industrial and agricultural pollution, making it difficult for doctors to isolate specific causes for cancer.
A 2007 Basra University medical journal report found “no major rise” in cancer death rates, but that the proportion of children dying from cancer in Basra had jumped 65 percent in 1997 and 60 percent in 2005, compared to 1989.
In the first Gulf War, a great amount of depleted uranium was used, a quantity of which was traced near Basra.
In 2010, Basra opened its first specialist cancer hospital for children amid the rising number patients.
Iraqi medical facilities are limited, and thus keeping accurate health statistics during years of sectarian strife unleashed by the invasion was impossible.