Meditation on war.Mines, rivers, energy, environment and climate

By Blerim Abedini, Center for Security Studies and Development-Macedonia (CSSD)

Today the Balkans are not developed due to continuous local conflicts. Many rivers beds are not repaired which are causing floods in war’s regions which areas are contaminated by mines left by soldiers and armies.

The United Nations treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 1977 Environmental Modification Convention have provisions to limit the environmental impacts of war or military activities.
Customary international law as The Rio Declaration of 1992, Principle 24 provides: “Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary.”
Also, UN General Assembly Resolution 47/37 (1992) provides: “Destruction of the environment not justified by military necessity and carried out wantonly is clearly contrary to existing international law.”
In Africa civil wars are still continuing after decades of colonization. Africa has many countries in developing. Some of those countries have great sources of minerals which have high prices in global markets. Religious aspect is present as people’s aim to dominate over their region of interest. Climate change effects are becoming a factor for changing life in social, economic and political context. Because of natural disasters, agricultural benefits have downturn. Some group of people are looking to survive between illegal forms as exploitation of nature’s flora and fauna, by killing thousands of animals which may sell as products in richer markets. By cutting of tropic trees they are looking to benefit money and disregard the natural damage which will cause natural disaster and agricultural lose for farmers. We may hear news from media’s that animals in Africa are in target of many exploiters and wildlife of Africa is in danger by economic interest groups. We may read some chronological event related to states where wars have damaged many environmental locations.
The civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ended in 2003. The war has a devastating effect on the environment. National parks with endangered species. Refugees hunt wildlife for bush meat. Elephant populations in Africa have seriously declined as a result of ivory poaching. A survey by the WWF showed that the hippopotamus population in one national park decreased from 29,000 thirty years previously, to only 900 in 2005. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed all five parks as ‘world heritage in danger’.
The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea lasted until June 2000 and resulted in the death of over 150,000 Eritrean, and of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. Efforts to disrupt agricultural production in Eritrea resulted in changes in habitat. The placing of landmines has caused farming or herding to be very dangerous in most parts of the country. If floods occur landmines may be washed into cities.
In Rwanda after the 1994 genocide were inhabited forest reserves in the mountains where endangered gorillas lived. The civil war in Somalia in 1991 caused negative effects over fishing. People ignored international fishing protocols, by harming ecology in the region. Fishermen were hard to stop because they started carrying arms. The civil war in the Sudan (Darfur & Chad) , caused a widespread famine, unproductive farmland, refugees; In February 2006 the governments of Chad and Sudan signed a peace treaty called the Tripoli Agreement. The Darfur Conflict caused the death of between 50,000 and 450,000 civilians. It caused over 45,000 people fled in the Chad’s territory.
In Asia, during the Afghanistan war, extensive damage was done to the environment, and many people suffered health effects from weapons. It is estimated that ten thousand villages and environments were destroyed. Safe drinking water declined, because of leaks, bacterial contamination; Rivers and groundwater were contaminated. Less than 2% of the country contains a forest cover today. Bombs have threatened much of the country’s wildlife. Pollution from explosives in air, soil and water. One of them is cyclonite substance that may cause cancer. Perchlorates substances, which damage the thyroid gland.
The Gulf War was environmentally devastating war. Iraq dumped approximately one million tons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf. Approximately 25,000 migratory birds were killed. Local fisheries have problems, oil spills into the desert have formed lakes by covering 50 square kilometers, also oil percolated into groundwater aquifers;
Iraqi troops ignited Kuwaiti oil sources, releasing half a ton of air pollutants into the atmosphere. Environmental problems caused by the oil fires include smog formation and acid rain. Toxic fumes originating from the burning oil wells compromised human health, and threatened wildlife. It took about nine months to extinguish the fires.


Golf crises. In the Spring of 1991
During the war, many water plants were destroyed.People used to drink water directly from pollutedrivers that caused widespread disease as typhoid fever.
During war Tanks fired Depleted Uranium (DU) missiles which are teratogenic and carcinogenic. DU has
now been identified as a neurotoxin, and birth defects and cancers are attributed to other chemical and nerve agents. However, it is stated that DU oxides deposited in the lungs of veterans have not been thoroughly researched yet. It was later found that this may cause kidney and lung infections for highly exposed persons.
Israel & Lebanon – In July 2006. The war caused environmental problems as Israelis bombed a power station south of Beirut. The tanks leaked an estimated 20,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean Sea. The oil spill spread rapidly, covering over 90 km of the coastline by killing fish and affecting the habitat of the endangered green sea turtle. According to reports fighting regions between Israel and Palestina, have high level of toxic poisoned materials. Water is polluted and is not recommended for drink.
Russia & Chechnya– The wars have devastating effects on the region of Chechnya. An estimated 30% of Chechen territory is contaminated. Major environmental problems include radioactive waste and radiation, oil leaks into the ground from bombarded plants and refineries, and pollution of soil and surface water. Russia has buried radioactive waste in Chechnya. Some agricultural lands are polluted, groundwater pollution, the river’s pollution;
Russia & Ukraina– The fighting has destroyed much of the basic infrastructure in the East where drinking water is scarce. The Chernobyl it is located in North of Kiev and is a possible threat with catastrophic consequences if there could be some military actions. Uncleaned Arch of this Nuclear Central could emit radioactive contaminants by doubling poisons in the environment. Working on cleaning has difficulties and irresponsible due to war in the divided Ukraine. The Director of the Proliferation Prevention program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sharon Squassoni has said, “It’s complicated to begin with, if than you add the possibility of political or military turmoil — it’s going to make things even tougher.” For that, striking Chernobyl or any of Ukraine’s 15 other nuclear reactors would do serious environmental consequences for wide region.
Known as the New Safe Confinement (a gigantic protective arch), it will stand more than 350 feet high when completed — taller than the Statue of Liberty, by covering the building where the reactor is stored. This will allow workers to begin with removing of nuclear waste.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which oversees financing for the project, for the New Safe Confinement which will stay 350 feet high and very taller when will completed. The confinement covers the building where the reactor is stored and will stay for 100 years because of its necessary cleaning process.

Arch Chernobyl

Arch Chernobyl

The New Safe Confinement at Chernobyl (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)
We have to remember that time when a series of explosions killed 31 workers and released cancer-causing radiation into the atmosphere — many times more than even the Fukushima disaster of 2011 — leading to widespread health and environmental problems.
Balkans– The World Bank official estimates, about 60 percent of all the homes in Bosnia were damaged or destroyed in the war. He had put the cost of rebuilding at $25 billion. The economic, social and political life became unstable. Many companies which have had high salaries and production from ex-Yugoslavia Federation are closed due to Balkans war between republics of Yugoslav Federation. By losing the chain of production between partner companies of this Federation was difficult to compete in global markets. So Balkans are becoming as importing region for most products from foreign countries. Unemployment will influence migration of population to urban areas and developed foreign countries. Some of citizens will see the solution by exploiting natural sources as cutting trees, production of raw materials by disregarding pollution and environment policy. Negligence of people to protect environment is high due to polluted rivers from garbage. Agriculture faces damages due to high level of pesticides contained in the vegetables and fruits due to polluted water’s reserves.
We may put war’s mental effect on protection of environment. The war’s consequences for people’s psychology and their care for safe environment is evident. War’s effect on inter ethic society blocked the trade between Balkan’s nations as becoming the selective trading. Today Balkans regions are not developed due to continuous local conflicts. Many rivers beds are not repaired which are causing floods in war’s regions which regions are contaminated by mines left by soldiers.

Note: Analyses and research articles are products of the Center for Security Studies and Development-Macedonia (CSSD)