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Iraq Bulletin – 26 April 2003

26-04-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in Iraq. ICRC Baghdad and Basra work to restore family contacts. Humanitarian situation assessed in Mosul. ICRC and Federation start activities to support the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

 BAGHDAD – general situation

Following the explosion at an ammunition dump in the Zaafaraniya area of southeast Baghdad this morning, an ICRC team visited local hospitals to find out whether they needed assistance to treat the injured.

The ICRC continues to support Al Rashad psychiatric hospital, which was heavily looted and damaged between 9 and 11 April. Only about 400 of the hospital's more than 1,000 patients have returned so far, leaving many others, some of whom are highly unstable, to roam the streets. The ICRC is regularly providing medical supplies, plus food and drinking water for the patients. However, in an incident that illustrates just how precarious the security situation in Baghdad remains, windowpanes that the ICRC sent to the hospital yesterday were looted almost as soon as they were delivered.

 Family contacts  

As of this morning, the ICRC office in Baghdad has put 14 satellite phones at the disposal of Iraqis eager to contact their relatives abroad. Meanwhile, the ICRC continues to collect roughly 100'safe and well'messages every day. These are faxed to ICRC headquarters in Geneva, which forwards them to National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies for distribution to the addressees.

The ICRC’s Baghdad delegation will shortly be publishing the names of Iraqis currently outside the country who have registered on the ICRC’s special website http://www.familylinks.icrc.org to receiv e news from their relatives in the capital. The delegation will also be passing on messages from Iraqi prisoners of war to their families.

    

 NORTHERN IRAQ  

The situation in the city of Kirkuk appears to be improving gradually. According to an ICRC medical team that visited the city, water and electricity are back to normal. In Dohuk governorate, the water supply is reported to be functioning reasonably well despite power cuts. In Erbil, the situation is similar.

    

 SOUTHERN IRAQ  

In Basra, the ICRC continues to help Iraqi families who have lost contact with their relatives because of the war. About 900 people have so far called relatives abroad using facilities provided by the ICRC, and the organization has collected nearly 140 Red Cross messages. In addition, the ICRC has distributed nearly 300'safe and well'messages from Iraqi prisoners of war to their families in the Basra area.

Meanwhile, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have begun assessing the state of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) with a view to rapidly restoring its capacity to act as an independent humanitarian organization. They have carried out a survey of the Basra branch and plan to visit Nasariya, Samawa, Najaf and Kerbala.