What are the ICRC's priorities in helping Iraq's hospitals?
The ICRC, with its partners in the Movement, plans to continue to do what it can to support hospitals and keep vital services running, following the widespread looting and collapse of normal public services in many parts of the country.
It believes that one absolute pre-requisite is for the Occupying Power to ensure security, which will encourage key health workers to return to their posts and generally help life to return to normal.
Virtually without interruption since the conflict began on 20 March, ICRC delegates have been visiting the major health facilities in Iraq's main cities, concentrating on providing supplies for the treatment of war wounded, distributing massive amounts of drinking water and making emergency repairs to water and sanitation plants.
The looting of many hospitals has reduced their treatment capacity to around 20 per cent and the continued insecurity has prevented some staff from coming to work, while making many residents too afraid to venture out for treatment. The absence of normal administrative systems in itself prevents hospitals from running normally.
Since the arrival of coalition forces in Baghdad the ICRC has acted as a neutral intermediary, facilitating meetings between the military and local civil servants, with a view to re-establishing normal services.
In the immediate future the ICRC, with some national Red Cross/Red Crescent societies and supported by the International Federation, will concentrate on making emergency repairs to vital infrastructure, re-furbishing and re-equipping hospitals and other health institutions, and providing health consumables and equipment. A logistics pipeline has been put in place for bringing in supplies from neighbouring countries.