British study accepts Gulf War Syndrome

London (17 November 2004) RHC-- A new British inquiry confirms that the Gulf War Syndrome is genuine, and London must now accept that it afflicts thousands of veterans of the 1991 war against Iraq.

In its final report, the inquiry, headed by the Lord Lloyd of Berwick, said the Ministry of Defense should set up a special fund to compensate British veterans who have suffered from ill health as a result of their military service in Iraq nearly 15 years ago.

About 6000 British veterans of the conflict are believed to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome -- which involves a range of illnesses including cancers, motor neurone disease, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, traumatic stress and aching joints.

Lloyd's report said illnesses suffered by veterans were the result of a combination of causes, including multiple injections of vaccines, the use of organophosphate pesticides to spray tents, low-level exposure to nerve gas and the inhalation of depleted uranium dust.

According to the new report, only a "small proportion" of those who have become ill could have been suffering from post-traumatic stress. "The most likely explanation may be a combination of more than one cause against a background of stress, since at least some of the causes are thought to have a potential effect on each other." The report concluded that "all these causes are directly related to the veterans' service in the Gulf, in what was on any view a very toxic environment."

While acknowledging that more research is needed, the inquiry said that was no reason for the government not to accept -- after years of official doubt -- that the illnesses were a result of service in the Gulf. "Since the Gulf veterans were twice as likely to become ill as if they had stayed in the UK, the Government ought now, in fairness, and not before time, to accept that the illnesses of those who were deployed to the Gulf were caused by their deployment."

The report noted that the illnesses and symptoms are definitely a syndrome and that there is every reason to call it by its proper name: the Gulf War Syndrome.

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