Dr. Al Ali worked as an oncologist in Basra – one of the hotspots of the war in Iraq and of DU contamination.
He was a very devoted medical doctor who gave his time and energy to the sick people in Basra, in particular children, where he worked in the hospital to treat cancer patients. Born in 1944, Dr. Al Ali was consultant physician & oncologist for the Iraqi Ministry of Health since 1989, since 1984 and until 2014 he has been working at the Alsader Teaching Hospital in Basra. Former Director of Cancer Treatment Center in Basra, member of Iraqi Cancer Board (ICB) and Royal Colleges of UK, he had particular interest in palliative care of cancer patients.
During and after the Iraqi war he was confronted in his hospital with an increase of cancer cases and birth defects. With limited resources and medication, because of the war and the existing boycott, he had to find solutions on how to treat his cancer patients, well knowing that not all of his patients would get sufficient help. Then he had to make very difficult decisions on how to share the available medication amongst his patients.
He had to make tough decisions but always remained serene and compassionate. Whoever met him – like we, ICBUW people – was impressed by his courage and humanness coupled with modesty and warmth. We always were moved when he returned to those horrible war places in Iraq fearing that we might never see him again.
During his many speeches at various occasions, he made a link between the increase of cancer cases and the use of depleted uranium weapons and other toxic remnants of war and always highlighted, that children are particularly susceptible to DU poisoning.
ICBUW invited him many times to share his experience and findings during conferences and in connection with lobby activities. He was one of the guest speakers in the European Parliament in 2007, and spoke in the Belgian Parliament at the occasion of the adoption of the famous Belgian law to ban DU weapons on Belgian territory. And at many other occasions, he spoke in the name of the many patients that he treated in Basra.
His engagement, his activities and data collected contributed very much to the reporting of civil society organizations like ICBUW or PAX about DU contamination in Iraq damaging human health and the environment – findings that were in sharp contrast to the scandalously ignorant report of the WHO in 2013. Dr. Al Ali became member of the Advisory Board of ICBUW being and remaining all the time in (active) contact with us.
It was an honor for us to have worked together with him for so many years.
Our sincere condolences go to his family.
Ria Verjauw and Manfred Mohr