Iraq: Daily bulletin - 11 April 2003
11-04-2003 Operational Update
Latest reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad and Basra. Dire situation in Baghdad hospitals as anarchy grips the capital.
BAGHDAD (11 April)
The ICRC in Baghdad is extremely concerned about the anarchy and general chaos prevalent in the city. Lawlessness continues to be rampant, with ambulances being stopped and looted by armed individuals. The ICRC fears that the hospitals in Baghdad are no longer functioning and have been largely deserted by staff and patients. Most Baghdadis are too terrified to leave their homes. The ICRC will carry out assessments at different hospitals in the city if and when the security situation permits.
The ICRC was not able to access any hospitals or distribute supplementary drinking water because of the chaotic situation characterized by widespread looting and the presence of armed men in the streets.
The ICRC received reliable reports that Al-Kindi hospital has been looted of everything, including beds, electrical fittings and medical equipment. Other hospitals simply closed down in the face of the rampant disorder.
Because of the chaos many people, especially the most vulnerable, are simply too afraid to attempt to reach hospitals for medical care. The ICRC's medical doctor in Baghdad is particularly concerned about people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes or kidney problems, who find it extremely difficult if not impossible to reach the specialized facilities they require.
BASRA (10 April)
There appears to have been a public reaction to the widespread looting experienced over recent days, with the population making clear its discontent. Religious leaders have been speaking out against the criminal activity. Despite this, several armed robberies and shoot-outs, including attacks on hospitals and the orthopaedic centre, were reported to have taken place overnight from 9 to 10 April. Furthermore, a water pipeline linking the Wafa'Al-Qaed water-pumping station to the town of Safwan has been damaged by people stealing water. This has left the town without water, even though the pumping station and the local water-treatment plant are both working.
ICRC staff paid a brief visit to the hospital in Al-Zubayr near Basra. The hospital director reported widespread looting in the town during the previous night. Fortunately, hospital staff have so far been able to defend the facility against the looting. The hospital would in theory be able to admit patients treated in coalition forces'field hospitals but still requiring follow-up medical care.
Water trucking to hospitals continued, as did the installation of UNICEF-donated bladder tanks. Repair work on the high-tension line providing power to Wafa'Al-Qaed raw water-pumping station and water-treatment plant was completed. A war-wounded kit for 100 patients was delivered to Basra teaching hospital, while catheter sets and blankets were provided to Tahrir hospital.
Volunteers of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society have continued to distribute leaflets raising a wareness of the danger of mines and unexploded ordnance. UK forces have also been made aware of the location of abandoned ammunition/weaponry and unexploded ordnance in the city.
Facilitating restoration of basic services
Through its established role as neutral intermediary, the ICRC has begun facilitating different meetings between UK forces and local Iraqi administrative bodies, with a view to restoring basic services in Basra.