Dutch Afghan war veterans’ health problems

Burn pit in Afghanistan, photo Dutch Ministry of Defence

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Within two weeks, 110 soldiers have already reported that they have become ill through so-called burn pits or are worried about them. Burn pits are pits that were used to burn waste in mission areas in Afghanistan.

There was unrest among soldiers sent out after colleagues reported health complaints that might be related to those burn pits. Initially, Minister Bijleveld [of war, sorry I am supposed to say Defense] said that no one had reported to the Ministry of Defense, but later it turned out that soldiers had indeed expressed their concerns, eg, to military physicians. These, however, were not considered official reports.

Bijleveld then set up a hotline that started on 4 February. In the meantime 110 people have registered there. If the reports give reason to do so, the minister wants to independently investigate the health complaints, and will let the House of Representatives know. She wants to make a decision in April.


In the burn pits, waste was burned in the open air. Soldiers claim that they have contracted cancer or other diseases as a result of the harmful substances released.

In her letter, Bijleveld writes that it is not uncommon to process waste in this way in mission areas. Often it is the only way to get rid of waste. The local population also does it.

In George W Bush’s ‘new’ Afghanistan, very many people are hungry and poor. They have no money to get rid of waste in more environmentally and medically sound ways. They as well may be suffering from the diseases caused by burn pits.

See also here.

6 thoughts on “Dutch Afghan war veterans’ health problems

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