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Iraq bulletin – 13 May 2003

13-05-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in the field.

 (covering 8 to 10 May)  

 BAGHDAD AND CENTRAL IRAQ  

 General situation   

Security is by far the most important concern of Iraqis. Numerous security incidents happen daily in the capital: looting, banditry, ambushes, car-jacking, physical attacks and killings. Schools have reopened but most parents are concerned about their children's safety. More public servants are going back to work; they have so far received emergency payments of USD20.

Several mine incidents have been reported: two on the main airport road where anti-personnel mines were placed in plastic bags and 11 on the Baghdad-Kirkuk road (60 km south of Kirkuk). The ICRC delegation in Baghdad has stepped up its security measures.

 Protection – re-establishment of family links  

    

  • Satphone calls abroad: 700 

  • " Safe & Well " messages: 134 (on 10 and 11 May)

    

 Humanitarian coordination within the RCRC Movement  

    

The ICRC, the Iraqi Red Crescent, the International Federation and a number of national societies from the region and beyond are meeting in Baghdad today (13 May) to discuss plans for the coordination of humanitarian work by members of the Movement in the post-conflictual period.

    

 Medical situation - Baghdad hospitals  

Visits to hospitals and health centres in and around Baghdad continue. All in all, most facilities visited are at least partially functional again, with an average bed occupation rate of 50 per cent and some 70 per cent of the medical staff back at work. However, in most places cleaning staff have not returned to work.

The main needs observed are fuel (to run the electricity and to transport the staff to and from work), salaries and specific medical/surgical supplies. Water is being distributed (by the ICRC) and electricity is available in hospitals at least for a few hours a day.

  • Hospitals visited: al Wasity, al Karama, al Mahmoudiya, Medical City, al Rashad Psychiatric;

  • Primary health centres visited: al Latifya, al Yosifiya

ICRC supplied medical and surgical material to al Wasity and al Mahmoudiya hospitals and the Medical City Kidney Centre. 

 Water and sanitation  

    

Se curity remains the major issue. Technicians and drivers of government vehicles are routinely intimidated or threatened on their way to work. The looting of essential facilities is severely obstructing normal work: one water plant recently visited had had its generator and two main pumps stolen.

Electricity production has not improved over the past ten days: only 2,200 megawatts (MW) are generated nationwide out of the 10,000 MW needed. This raises a serious threat to public health, since it limits the production of safe water; the risk will increase with the advent of summer.

The ICRC delivered 28,000 one-litre water bags to hospitals and health centres and plans to deliver 215,000 litres of fuel.

 Economic security  

The ICRC delivered 2,000 blankets to the health directorate in Najaf, and continues distributing food and non-food items to people in greatest need. Market prices, although falling, are still higher than before the war. According to the information available to the ICRC, food stocks in average households could last for up to a month. The main problems identified are the lack of cash income and the shortage of fuel and gas.

 BASRA AND SOUTHERN IRAQ  

 General  

In Basra some schools are reopening, but life is still far from normal and security is still a problem. The ICRC and other humanitarian organizations continue to monitor the cholera outbreak.

 Protection and Tracing  

    

  •  Detention: the releases from Um Qasr camp are continuing, monitored by the ICRC, which gives each departing internee a family parcel of food items. On 9 May, the total number of prisoners of war and civilian internees in the camp was 1,200.

  •  Re-establishment of family links: ICRC and the Iraqi Red Crescent have started operating a satellite phone booth and a Red Cross Message collection/distribution point in Nasiriya.

 Medical activities  

    

Two meetings of the " cholera working group " were held at the ICRC office, with the presence of local authorities, WHO, UNICEF, MSF and MdM. A total of 18 cholera cases were reported up to 8 May; all except one were children aged under five. The shortage of fuel makes it difficult for mothers to boil water before giving it to their children. The ICRC has the necessary medical supplies that could be given to hospitals in case of need.

 Water and sanitation  

The ICRC installed a 10 cubic metre bladder at the Abu al Kasib hospital, and is continuing water distribution by tankers to the hospitals of Basra.

The ICRC delivered 800 litres of lubrication oil for generators to four water treatment plants at Amara city.

 Unexploded ordnance   

The ICR C continues its assessment of contaminated areas. In Basra governorate, Iraqi Red Crescent volunteers have visited 50 sites to raise awareness about the dangers of mines and unexploded shells and bombs.

According to data at Basrah Teaching Hospital 18 victims of unexploded ordnance incidents have been admitted since 10 April; they included five fatalities. All but two of the casualties were children or adolescents.

 NORTHERN IRAQ  

    

 General  

    

On 6 May two people were killed when unexploded ordnance – apparently an artillery shell – detonated in a village in Dohuk governorate.

 Medical facilities  

The ICRC visited Sinjar Hospital (in Mosul governorate), Ain Sifni hospital and al Taamim health centre. 

 SYRIA  

 Protection – re-establishment of family links  

At al Bukamal camp, housing 200 people, 100 calls were made to relatives abroad on ICRC satellite phones.