KUWAIT, Nov 6 (KUNA) -- Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil Sheikh Talal Al-Athbi Al-Sabah said the Kuwaiti people made epic efforts to rehabilitate environment following the Iraqi invasion (1990-91).
"The Iraqi troops set fire to 727 oil wells and experts estimated that it would take two years for firefighters to put out these fires. Thanks to the glorious national efforts of the Kuwaitis, these fires were extinguish in just seven months," he said.
Sheikh Talal made the comments at a function held on Monday evening by Kuwait Environment Protection Society (KEPS) to mark the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
He was addressing the event on behalf of Minister of Oil and Minister of Electricity and Water Essam Al-Marzouq.
"Due to the well fires and the emissions of 150 tons of air pollutants, the State of Kuwait witnessed the world's worst environment disaster. The country's oil sector sustained losses of nearly USD 75 billion at that time," Sheikh Talal recalled.
Twenty-seven international firefighting teams, including 26 Kuwaiti members were able to put out 41 percent of the well fires and stop the air, land and marine pollution, he added.
Meanwhile, Nezar Al-Adsani, CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), commended the UN General Assembly resolution on November 5, 2001, to declare November 6 an International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
"This is a chance for governments around the globe to work together and find ways to limit environmental destruction caused by armed conflicts and wars," he pointed out.
He highlighted the importance of honoring all those who took part in the battle against well fires in Kuwait
On her part, Chairperson of Kuwait Voluntary Work Center Sheikha Amthal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah took pride in the presence in the function of members of firefighting teams who risked their lives in the glorious battle against well fires.
She recalled that late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was keen on observing the efforts of the firefighting teams and made inspection tours to the sites of the well fires.
"His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah - the then foreign minister, and the supreme council of environment had also made relentless efforts to convey Kuwait voice to the UN and spotlight the environmental disaster," she pointed out.
"The UN declaration of this international day is a great achievement that is attributable to the efforts of the Kuwaiti leaders," Sheikha Amthal stressed.
KEPS Chairperson Wejdan Al-Oqab appreciated the efforts of the Kuwaiti oil companies and workers to strengthen the economy of the country and care for environment.
It is a top priority for the country's oil sector to protect the safety of environment," she said.
She stressed the need to prevent any spillover of armed conflicts on environment in order to protect the natural resources, the public health and the future generations.
In a similar speech to the gathering, Kuwait former Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Mohammad Abul-Hassan extolled efforts made by His Highness the Amir after the Iraqi invasion to lobby friendly countries for fight against well fires and turn this process into a national and global success.
His Highness the Amir, the then foreign minister, successfully advocated for the UN General Assembly declaration of November 6 as International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the senior diplomat said.
Abul-Hassan appreciated KEPS observation of this occasion, urging the competent agencies in the region and beyond to work together to raise public awareness about, sharing information on, environment protection.
Speakers at the function included director of the cultural centers dept. of the Amiri Diwan Sahar Al-Oqab and representative of the firefighting teams Isa Buyabes. (end)