The Human and Environmental Aspects of the Persian Gulf War

Excerpts from the Congressional Record, March 22, 1991
By: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Ms. PELOSI . Mr. Speaker, as the U.N. Security Council prepares to debate the terms for a formal end to the war in the Persian Gulf and as we weigh the cost of our share of the allied effort there, let us take a moment to reflect upon the human and environmental costs of war borne by the people of the region.

Before our colleagues leave the Chamber, I want them to be assured that so many people who were antiwar in their sentiments were, indeed, very overwhelmingly supportive of the troops and that the two are not mutually exclusive. I know it will be a consolation to him, because I detected some doubt of that fact in his remarks.

Mr. Speaker, the Iraqi citizens have borne the full brunt of Hussein's aggression. According to a U.N. report released Wednesday, food prices have risen 1,000 percent, and some foods can only be obtained by prescription from a doctor. Clean water is scarce. Sewage lies in puddles on the streets of Iraqi cities.

The United Nations has labled the situation near apocalyptic, and it is calling for immediate action to prevent imminent disaster.

In Kuwait, fires destroyed 6 million barrels of oil each day. Smoke and soot threatened fragile ecosystems as far away as northern India. Over 1 million gallons of crude oil, Mr. Speaker, is an amount six times the size of the Exxon Valdez oilspill, blackened the beaches and wildlife habitats of gulf coastal areas.

I was pleased that our colleague, the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] offered a resolution the other day declaring Hussein an ecoterrorist in what we did there which was ecoterrorism. It is indeed that, but it was also predictable and likely, and a consequence of war that we cannot ignore.

It is as important to people's lives, their living and dying, as the air they breathe and the water they drink. Mr. Speaker, I believe our troops deserve accolades for their bravery in their performance in the Persian Gulf.

Today, Mr. Speaker, tens of thousands of Iraqi men and women and children need our allied help to save them from starvation and disease. We must act quickly, with food and medical assistance, to prevent a catastrophe. I hope that the resolution that the United Nations has for lifting of humanitarian embargo will be passed. It is very critical to the lives of these people.

Today, as we pass the supplemental for Desert Shield, we should do so with the knowledge that the needs of the people of Iraq have just begun.

Our colleagues will return to the floor to talk more about the damage to the environment that has been caused in the Persian Gulf . We lay it at the doorstep of Saddam Hussein, but it cannot be ignored by the United States that these fires are burning and that people are having difficulty breathing in that region, and that an area as closed in as the Persian Gulf has a tragedy six times, as I said before, six times the Exxon Valdez. More on that later, Mr. Speaker

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