A group of French veterans (AVEN) who witnessed nuclear tests in the Algerian desert in the 60's have offered their support to the Touareg who were exposed to the radiation and asbestos from this testing, as part of their effort to force the French government to acknowledge the testing and compensate its victims.
Between 14 and 17 tests were held in Algeria, with bombs four times more powerful than those dropped on Japan during WWII. Radioactive fallout was detected in areas 1000 kms. (over 600 miles) away from the bomb sites, and many believe there is still evidence of contamination. Mansouri Amar, an Algerian nuclear researcher, when discussing the Saharan regions of In Ecker and Reggane where much of the testing was carried out, said:
Thousands of hectares have been contaminated, and the region is still dangerous for humans and the animals. Our goal today is to show our invitees what happened here, and we should also mobilise public opinion on this issue.
Toureg bedouins for years have told tales of how they dug up metal around Taourirt Tan Afella and made it into jewelry and ornaments, not realizing that doing so could cost them their lives.
Also sought is an acknowledgement by the French of the link between this testing and cases of thyroid cancer in those exposed to the fallout, as well as the drafting of a law formally recognizing this link. This effort has been led by Christiane Taubira, a Segolene supporter and a deputy of the PRG. The French government has not made public any documents about nuclear testing in Algeria, which has impeded the study of any possible links. The declassification of these documents is critical, and an urgent call to do so has been made by Dr. Florent de Vathaire, head of cancer epidemiology at the Gustave-Roussy Institute in Paris, part of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research.
De Vathaire has studied the correlation between France's nuclear testing in Polynesia (after Algerian independence, testing was moved to French Polynesia), and has found a direct statistical relation between the testing and the cases of thyroid cancer in the islands.
P.S. Yours truly, a frustrated doctor with no medical training whatsoever (read: disclaimer!) has for many years told anyone who would listen that there must be a reason for such a prevalence of thyroid disorders in Algeria, evidenced not merely by the multiple cases within my Algerian family, but also by the number of people one sees throughout Algeria who clearly suffer from Thyroid Eye Disease, evidenced by a wide-eyed and bulging stare.