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ICRC activities in Iraq: January to March 2006

31-03-2006 Operational Update

The following is an update of activities carried out by the ICRC between January and March 2006

In the first quarter of the year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was particularly concerned about the significant upsurge of violence in Iraq, especially in the central part of country and after the bomb attack on a shrine in Samarra. Hundreds of civilians lost their lives as a result of indiscriminate attacks, targeted assassinations and military operations. Many people had to leave their homes, either forcibly displaced or fearful of sectarian violence. Water, electricity and health infrastructure was damaged or continued to deteriorate in many areas of the country, leaving the needs of a large part of the population unmet.

Throughout this period, the ICRC responded to emergencies and helped people affected by violence, working in close cooperation with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. The ICRC also renovated or repaired essential infrastructure. It carried on visiting detainees and maintaining links between them and their families through Red Cross messages (RCM). Finally, the ICRC continued to call upon all parties, groups and individuals to exercise restraint, not to harm civilians and not to damage or destroy civilian objects – including places of worship.

 
Visits to detainees 
 

    

 Between January and March 2006, the ICRC:  

  • made eight visits to four places of detention under the authority of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, including Camp Cropper at Baghdad Airport, Camps Bucca and Shaibe in the south and Camp Fort Suse in northern Iraq, plus 16 visits to 11 places of detention under the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government;

  • visited about 14,000 detainees all over the country;

  • collected approximately 7,690 RCMs and distributed some 4,720, thereby maintaining contact between detainees and their relatives;

  • enabled about 3,600 persons to visit members of their families held at Camp Bucca, through its Family Visit Allowance Programme;

  • repatriated five foreign detainees after their release.

 
Water and sanitation 
 

 Between January and March 2006  

  • In the centre of the country, the ICRC repaired and renovated the vital components of water supply, sewerage and electromechanical systems in 12 primary health-care centres in Al-Anbar Governorate and in six centres west and south of Baghdad Governorate, serving a total of 400,000 inhabitants.

  • In the south of the country, it completed work on restoring the Al-Mouhadad and Al-Bradiya water treatment plants to full capacity. It also initiated work on the R-Zero plant. Together, these three installations will be treating 24,000 cubic metres of water per hour for the people of Basra. The ICRC also carried out emergency repairs on the sewerage system of Al-Sader Teaching Hospital in Basra, which collapsed in March.

  • In the north, the ICRC addressed the humanitarian needs created by the military operation in Talafar, restorin g the Al-Aski water treatment plant and the Abu Mariya boosting station to full capacity. These facilities supply water to over 150,000 people in the town and surrounding villages. The ICRC also upgraded the water supply system at Erbil Teaching Hospital, drilling a 300 m well and renovating the elevated water tank.

    

 Support to the Medico-Legal Institute  

The Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute is having difficulty handling and identifying dead bodies appropriately because of the rising number of casualties and its dilapidated equipment, so the ICRC decided to renovate the Institute’s mortuaries. The ICRC also initiated the renovation of mortuaries in 11 Baghdad hospitals.

 
Responding to emergencies 
 

Between January and March, the ICRC supplied drinking water to health facilities overwhelmed by the large number of casualties. The organization distributed tens of thousands of one-litre water bags to such facilities in Baghdad, in addition to the 135,000 litres it provided to Al-Kindy Hospital in the wake of the violence provoked by the bomb attack in Samarra.

In anticipation of casualties related to the military operation in Samarra, the ICRC provided Baghdad health authorities with medical supplies (including medication, intravenous fluids, drains, bandages , surgical material and x-ray supplies) to cover the needs of 100 people with war wounds requiring in-patient treatment. The supplies are calculated to cover an average of 10 days hospitalization for each patient and can meet the needs of multiple surgical procedures for many of them. The ICRC made a similar delivery to Imam Ali Hospital in Sadr City, following three successive car bombs that killed and injured scores of people. In addition, the ICRC delivered a fully equipped mobile clinic to the Abu Ghraib area to respond to the medical needs of detainees'families visiting Abu Ghraib prison.

In January, the ICRC provided 150 food parcels, 150 heaters and 450 blankets to displaced families and other needy persons in the Taji area. It also supplied 4,100 food parcels to the IRCS for distribution to families displaced as a result of the military operation in the Al-Anbar area in December 2005. In March, it provided the IRCS with 5,000 food parcels, 1,000 jerrycans and 1,000 hygiene kits. Part of this aid was delivered to displaced families in Samarra and in Baghdad's Tarmiya neighbourhood, in addition to the 200 food parcels, 200 heaters and over 600 blankets the ICRC had previously supplied to this area. The rest will be distributed in future according to need. The ICRC sent tents and blankets to displaced families seeking refuge in Najaf and delivered tents to residents of Samarra who had fled the military operation.

Anticipating drinking water needs during the holy Al-Imam Al-Hussein procession in March, which brings together huge numbers of people, the ICRC supplied 162,000 water bags to the health departments of Kerbala, Babel and Al-Kharkh. As a preventive measure, it also provided the Kerbala Department of Health with medical supplies and 50 stretchers.

Following January’s unprecedented rainfall in the north and south of the country, the ICRC helped drain flooded areas using heavy pumping vehicles and assisted affected families. I n cooperation with the Iraqi Red Crescent, it distributed food parcels to some 100 families in the Safwan region and provided 1,000 food parcels and 300 kerosene heaters to those affected in Erbil Governorate.

 
Physical rehabilitation 
 

The ICRC continued to support eight limb-fitting centres in Baghdad, Hilla, Mosul, Najaf and Basra and to fully manage the Erbil centre. Between January and March 2006, the ICRC received more than 450 patients and fitted about 100 artificial limbs to amputees.