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The ICRC in Iraq

19-03-2012 Field Newsletter

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is helping people in Iraq who are suffering the consequences of violence, past and present. The organization is focusing on those most in need, such as disabled people, female heads of household, internally displaced persons and farmers.

Supporting health-care facilities

  • Providing on-site support to nine primary health-care centres, helping renovate facilities and training staff.
  • Improving medical services through training in war surgery and emergency management
  • Offering occupational therapy support and supplies for patients at Al-Rashad psychiatric hospital in Baghdad.

Helping disabled people resume a normal life

  • Providing training and raw materials to the Iraqi school for prosthetics and orthotics, a workshop that manufactures crutches, and 11 physical rehabilitation centres, of which one is run by the ICRC.
  • Encouraging the social and economic reintegration of disabled people through micro-economic projects.

Providing clean water and sanitation

  • Repairing and improving water supply and sanitation systems.
  • Renovating primary health-care centres.
  • Providing safe drinking water for vulnerable people, including those who are displaced within Iraq.
  • Training technicians in the operation and maintenance of water treatment plants and water infrastructure.

Bringing aid to people facing hardship

  • Providing relief goods to female-headed households, conducting advocacy for this section of society and helping them become financially self-sufficient.
  • Distributing food, hygiene kits and essential household items to families displaced by violence
  • Helping disabled, vulnerable residents and returnees in rural communities to improve their livelihoods.

Clearing unexploded munitions

  • Removing unexploded munitions.
  • Making people more aware of the dangers that unexploded munitions pose.

Visiting detainees and restoring family links

The ICRC visits people detained by the Iraqi authorities and the Kurdish regional authorities, with the aim of ensuring that they are treated humanely and that their conditions of detention are appropriate. It shares its observations and recommendations with the detaining authorities in confidence. The organization enables detainees to contact their relatives through Red Cross messages, and responds to enquiries from families seeking information on detained or missing relatives.

When necessary, the ICRC also:

  • renovates water and sanitation facilities
  • provides detainees with such items as books, hygiene articles, mattresses and clothing
  • issues attestations of detention to former detainees.

Clarifying the fate of missing persons

The ICRC supports the efforts of the Iraqi authorities to clarify the fate of people still unaccounted for as a result of the Iran-Iraq War and the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and to provide answers to the families. This support includes facilitating the exchange of information between the parties, forensic training, joint missions in the field and the handover of human remains.

Promoting respect for international humanitarian law

Reminding parties to a conflict of their obligation to protect people not taking part in the hostilities is a fundamental part of the ICRC's work. The ICRC promotes international humanitarian law (IHL) among weapon-bearers, authorities, tribal and religious leaders and academic circles. It helps the Iraqi armed and security forces to incorporate IHL into their doctrine, education, training and disciplinary system. It also encourages the Iraqi government to ratify and implement IHL treaties.

Cooperating with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society

The ICRC helps the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) increase its capacity to deliver humanitarian services in Iraq. It trains IRCS volunteers in first-aid and emergency response. Other areas of cooperation include exchanging family news and educating communities about the risks of explosive remnants of war.

The ICRC has been working in Iraq continuously since 1980. Its humanitarian activities focus on detainee welfare and aid to people affected by violence.


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© ICRC