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Iraq bulletin - 15 April 2003

15-04-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad and Basra. Second series of POW visits begins today. Water and electricity still posing major problems.

 GENERAL (15 April)

    

Security has improved somewhat in Baghdad, though by no means definitively. Police cars can now be seen patrolling the streets and many ICRC national staff have been able to return to work for the first time in days. A shortage of fuel is making transport difficult for many residents of Baghdad.

Also in the capital, ICRC engineers and technicians are continuing work to repair damaged pipes at Sabaa Nissan water station, which provides water for the Rusafa area east of the river Tigris. They are also working at the Qanat raw water-pumping station, reportedly damaged by a missile, which serves densely populated neighbourhoods in the north of the city.

 Prisoners of war  

A 15-person team of ICRC delegates and interpreters is beginning a second visit today to a coalition detention camp in southern Iraq where Iraqi POWs are being held. The visit is expected to last up to one week. During the first visit, between 30 March and 6 April, more than 3,800 Iraqi POWs were registered.

 BAGHDAD (13/14 April)

Overall, the medical situation appeared to improve over the previous 48 hours, as the security situation gradually stabilised.

 Hospital assessments and water  

ICRC staff visited ten hospitals on 13 and 14 April to assess general levels of hygiene and the condition of technical facilities such as water, power, sewerage and oxygen supplies. A contract was signed with a local company to begin supplying all major surgical hospitals (13 at this stage) with oxygen for at least one month. Over the same two days the ICRC delivered water by tanker truck to at least four hospitals; a further 40,000 one-litre bags of drinking water were delivered to several other hospitals to compensate for the limited capacity of the water-supply network. The ICRC, along with ICRC-hired contractors, also began checking and repairing key installations such as back-up generators and water-storage tanks. It is planned to supply several hospitals with fuel and other essentials over the coming days.

The ICRC and ICRC-hired contractors intervened on numerous occasions to carry out urgent maintenance and repairs on back-up generators and other key equipment (chlorinators, pump sets etc.) for the main water-treatment plants and compact unit systems providing water for most of Baghdad. Spare parts and essential materials such as electrical cable, compressors, fuel, pumps and batteries were supplied to a number of facilities, some of which had been looted.

The tap-water supply to parts of Rusafa in the north of Baghdad remained disrupted because of damage to the Qanat raw water-pumping station. The ICRC used two water tanks to supply areas cut off from the water network and carried out different repairs on a booster station and a water-storage tank.

    

 Facilitating contacts as a neutral intermediary  

The ICRC, in its role as a neutral intermediary, began facilitating conta cts between officials of the Baghdad Water and Sewerage Authorities with representatives of the civil affairs section of the US forces in order to discuss the problems facing key services such as water and sewerage. Under international humanitarian law, Occupying Powers have to do everything feasible to restore basic services for the civilian population.

 BASRA (13/14 April)

A convoy of three trucks carrying relief goods for water and habitat operations arrived from Kuwait on 14 April. ICRC delegates in the city report that there are currently no urgent food needs. The water stations are functioning but many pipes have been damaged or destroyed, meaning there are problems distributing the water. The ICRC is carrying out repairs to the pipes. The main problem remains the lack of electricity.

The ICRC installed an additional bladder water tank in a health centre in Al-Zubayr near Basra.

 Facilitating contacts as a neutral intermediary  

The ICRC is continuing to provide a neutral space, enabling representatives of different Iraqi ethnic groups and officials of the former administration to meet coalition forces for discussions on how to resolve problems related to basic services such as water, electricity, irrigation and sewerage. 

 Mine awareness  

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), with the support of the ICRC, has restarted its awareness campaign to alert the population to the dangers of Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs), which include unexploded ordnance and anti-personnel mines. Trained IRCS volunteers are organizing pu blic information sessions and door-to-door campaigns. They are also collecting information on incidents involving ERWs and maintaining a continuous dialogue with parties able to clear them.