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Iraq: Humanitarian situation in Basra and Baghdad

28-03-2008 Operational Update

Latest report on humanitarian situation in Iraq

The ICRC is concerned about the humanitarian impact of continued fighting in Basra and Baghdad. Its staff in the two cities say that many people are running out of food and water. Most shops are reported to be closed. The supply of electricity in Basra and in parts of Baghdad is intermittent or has been cut. 

Hospitals in Basra and in parts of Baghdad have told the ICRC that they are running out of medical stocks, food and fuel. Patients'families are reportedly bringing their own small generators to some hospitals in the capital to ensure sufficient power supplies during treatment. Many medical workers are unable to reach hospitals because of the continuing fighting. 

A number of warehouses in Basra contain stocks of food and medicines but it has so far been impossible to distribute them.

ICRC personnel are present in both cities and in Najaf. Because of the continuing fighting, their movements have been severely restricted. However, they have been able to contact parties to the fighting and different medical facilities. 

The ICRC calls on all the parties involved in the fighting to spare civilians and ensure that they have access to essential services such as medical care.

 ICRC assistance  

The ICRC delivered two kits for treating the war-wounded to Basra by plane from Amman in two instalments on 27 and 28 March. At Basra airport the kits were handed over to ambulances from the Department of Health, which distributed them to the city's five hospitals. A similar kit was delivered by the ICRC on 25 March.

An ICRC kit for the war-wounded contains two tonnes of drugs, intravenous fluids, dressing materials and other medical supplies such as catheters, syringes and surgical items. It is distributed in order to assist existing medical facilities and is sufficient to treat about 100 wounded patients. The ICRC is looking into ways of distributing additional kits.

On 26 March the ICRC contacted the authorities to facilitate the entry into Basra of a shipment of blood supplies from neighbouring governorates that had been blocked outside the city.

ICRC staff on the ground remain in regular contact with hospitals. In Baghdad, Imam Ali General Hospital in Sadr City and Al Yarmouk Teaching Hospital in the west of the capital, where the ICRC's pre-positioned medical and surgical supplies are being used, are receiving the bulk of the wounded.

Yesterday, the ICRC delivered 20,000 litres of water by firetruck to displaced people in Sadr City. 

 
For further information, please contact:
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 3226
  Hicham Hassan, ICRC Iraq, tel. + 962 777 399 614 or + 962 6 552 39 94