WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Joe Biden signed a bill giving financial assistance to victims of strange headaches and nausea experienced by US diplomats in what has been nicknamed the “Havana Syndrome” on Friday.
The Havana Act compensates members of the State Department and CIA who sustain brain injuries due to what US officials believe to be directed microwave attacks.
Numerous cases have been reported at US embassies worldwide, beginning with a cluster in Havana, Cuba. The cause of the sicknesses is yet unknown, as is the assailant’s identity if there is one.
“I want to express my gratitude to Congress for passing it with full bipartisan support, sending a strong message that we look out for one another,” Biden said in a statement.
“Anomalies in health have plagued civil officials, intelligence officers, diplomats, and military people worldwide. Some are battling devastating brain impairments that have forced them to abandon professions of service to our country.”
Republican Senator Susan Collins, the bill’s principal sponsor, stated that over 40 US personnel had been diagnosed with “Havana Syndrome” ailments in Cuba since 2016 and dozens more elsewhere, including those on US territory.
According to US media reports, a member of CIA director William Burns’ staff experienced identical symptoms in India this month, during the intelligence chief’s visit there.
Two US officials in Germany were also recent victims, while the New Yorker stated that dozens of cases involving US officials have occurred in Vienna, Austria alone.
Collins stated that the new legislation would assist individuals in need.
The mystery disease is known as “Havana Syndrome” initially struck US diplomats and intelligence officers in late 2016. Symptoms included headaches, nausea, memory loss, and other cognitive issues. The first cluster of instances baffled doctors.
“Far too many victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’ have been forced to battle bureaucracy to receive treatment for their terrible ailments,” she stated.
“The Havana Act will ensure that those afflicted receive the necessary financial and medical assistance. Additionally, it demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that our government ascertains the perpetrators.”