Nearly 2,000 Belgian soldiers are said to have been exposed to toxic fumes while stationed in Afghanistan, De Morgen reported on Tuesday. Foreign soldiers, based in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been burning their waste in the open air within their encampment, according to reports. In total, 1,938 Belgian soldiers were present on the Afghan base of Kandahar between 2008 and 2012.
Since then, thousands of Americans and hundreds of former Dutch soldiers have become convinced these toxic fumes have affected their bodies. An official American call centre received some 172,000 reports. In the Netherlands, 200 soldiers think that they fell ill at the time of their mission to the Middle-East.
The Belgian army has no knowledge of any “persistent or serious problems” linked to a burn pit, the press service said. Additionally, it emerged from a 2011 study that atmospheric pollution in Kandahar has remained “limited.”
Epidemiologist Tim Nawrot and toxicologist Jan Tytgat concluded in De Morgen that the reports were questionable.
Ferre van de Nadort, legal expert and former professional soldier, who investigated combustion sources in the Netherlands, is convinced the Belgians are also ill.
“In Kandahar, they worked and slept alongside Dutchmen,” he said.
The Brussels Times