Conflicts are bad for the environment, says UNEP report

At a time when the threat of war looms large over Iraq, here's more ammunition for peaceniks to confront warmongers with. The United Nations Environment Programme (unep) recently released the findings of assessments conducted in the violence-wracked Occupied Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan. The reports have brought into sharp focus the terrifying impact of conflicts on the environment and, subsequently, on human health. The ecological costs of the 1991 Gulf War also represent a similar trend (see box: The aftermath).

The issue of environmental assessments that take stock of the after-effects of war dominated the 22nd session of the unep Governing Council, held in Nairobi from February 3-7, 2003. Not only did members endorse steps taken by the unep in this regard, they called upon it to further strengthen its activities in this area through its Post-Conflict Assessment Unit (pcau) which was set up in December 2001. It was, however, decided after a heated debate that the unep should restrict its activities to post-conflict situations and that even these shall be carried out only upon the request of the concerned parties.

The two studies by the unep include the

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