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Iraq: Daily bulletin – 7 April 2003

07-04-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in the field in Baghdad, Basra and Arbil.

 All information dates from Sunday, 6 April.  

 BAGHDAD  

 General situation  

During the day, a number of military engagements took place, initially on the outskirts of the city, but later on also in central areas. The situation was increasingly unpredictable, and ICRC staff moving around Baghdad were proceeding with extreme caution. Many of the city's electricity grids were not working, and less than 20% of households were receiving power – albeit limited – during the night. Most hospitals visited had, however, been hooked up to emergency feeder lines, providing power for at least a few hours a day.

 Family links  

The ICRC office was inundated by Baghdad residents wishing to call their relatives abroad. The fact that people manage to make their way to the office in these dangerous and difficult times, and are prepared to wait for more than an hour to make a two-minute call, illustrates just how important this service is for Iraqis. The ICRC office will try to further improve procedures so that the waiting time is reduced.

 Medical activities  

    

ICRC medical staff visited three hospitals in the city. Undoubtedly, the resources and staff of these hospitals are being stretched to their limits by the current situation. Between them they treated several hundred war-wounded patients on Saturday, 5 April. In the morning of 6 April there appeared to be a lull in the number of new admissions of war-wounded, but this was judged unlikely to last long. A major problem being faced by the hospitals is that their personnel are finding it increasingly difficult to come to work.

The ICRC provided Al-Kindi general hospital with one first-aid-post kit for 100 war-wounded patients and 50 body bags. The medical needs at Al-Yarmouk general teaching hospital were mostly covered for the time being.

 Water  

The ICRC supplied five main surgical hospitals with emergency drinking water (80,000 litres by water tanker and 23,000 one-litre plastic bags). Four additional water storage bladder tanks were installed at three hospitals to serve emergency units and services such as laundries and kitchens. In addition, the ICRC finished installing steel ground storage tanks at two hospitals, increasing by 50% the amount of water available for operating theatres and emergency units. The ICRC continued to assist several hospitals with maintaining and repairing back-up generator systems.

The ICRC provided additional drinking water to several suburbs in central and northern Baghdad that are not connected to, or only poorly supplied by, the piped-water network. About 70,000 people in the affected areas benefited from the ICRC's help, with nine tanker trucks supplying dozens of water distribution points.

The ICRC technical team carried out a number of rapid assessments of water and sanitation facilities (such as water-treatment plants, reservoir stations and sewerage pumping stations). A number of these structures were only operating at minimum capacity owing to the absence of plant engineers and operators and because of the intermittent power supply. The ICRC was unable to reach several sites because of the security situation. However, ICRC technicians and companies contracted by the organization managed to carry out repair and maintenance work on back-up generators in some sites, including the Hay Akad complex, which was restarted after a three-day interruption to the benefit of 25,000 people in the Rashad area.

 BASRA  

As a result of heavy fighting in and around Basra, ICRC expatriate staff did not move around the city. Local staff were told to stay at home with their families.

Nonetheless, it was possible to install water bladder tanks in Basra hospitals. Water trucking activities also continued in the city.

The ICRC team finished a first visit to a coalition camp holding Iraqi POWs in southern Iraq.

    

 ARBIL  

The ICRC visited 48 Iraqi nationals held by Iraqi Kurdish factions.