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Update No. 96/1 on ICRC activities in Iraq

18-06-1996 Operational Update

 "Oil for food"  

On 20 May a Memorandum of Understanding was concluded between the UN Secretariat and the Government of Iraq on implementation of Security Council Resolution 986, also known as the " oil for food " agreement. The funds available under the agreement will cover a range of humanitarian needs, such as food, medicines, and water and sanitation facilities.

The ICRC has a team of 20 expatriates and 139 Iraqis working in its delegation in Baghdad, its sub-delegation in Arbil and its offices in Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. The following is the most up-to-date information on the institution's activities in Iraq.

 Detention-related activities  


On 12 May delegates visited 64 Iranian servicemen detained in camp XI, Ramadi. It was the first visit in more than a year, the last one having taken place in March 1995. The delegates collected 444 Red Cross messages written by the detainees for distribution to their families. The Iraqi authorities have given the go-ahead for a further visit in August this year.

 Northern Iraq  

Delegates based in northern Iraq regularly visit detainees held by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and, occasionally, the Kurdish Workers'Party. At the end of May, 678 det ainees were being visited or having their cases followed in northern Iraq. Of these, 448 were new detainees who had been registered since the beginning of 1996.


On 12 June the ICRC chaired the 16th meeting of the Tripartite Commission in Geneva. Representatives from Iraq and the Coalition countries (France, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States) discussed the tracing of people unaccounted for in connection with the Gulf war. The Technical Sub-Committee, which was set up by the Commission in December 1994 to speed up the process, continues to meet every month on the border between Iraq and Kuwait.

On 15 May the ICRC organized a family reunification on the Iraq-Kuwait border for a Kuwaiti who had appeared on the list of those unaccounted for in connection with the Gulf war and was discovered to be living in Iraq. The person in question decided to return to Kuwait and the ICRC organized her repatriation the same day, with the full cooperation of all the authorities concerned.

Also in May, the ICRC arranged for the mortal remains of an Iraqi pilot, whose plane had crashed in April 1995, to be repatriated from Saudi Arabia.

 Health activities  

 Water and sanitation  

The ICRC has finished importing into Iraq the spare parts and equipment to support the 90 water stations covered by its 1995 water and sanitation programme, including some in the northern governorates. It will shortly start importing the materials for the 1996 programme, to cover 62 stations.

In order to provide more details on its water and sanitation programme, the ICRC is producing a film (in English) and special brochur e (in Arabic and English). These will be sent to donors in due course.

 Programme for the war-disabled  

An ICRC prosthetic/orthotic centre in Arbil, northern Iraq, is to start operating in mid-July. Staff members have already been recruited locally, including an orthopaedic technician and physiotherapist. The centre will have an average monthly production capacity of 50 artificial limbs.

The three existing centres being supported by the ICRC in Iraq -- the Ministry of Health centres in Basra and Najaf and the Iraqi Red Crescent centre in Mosul -- together produced 325 prostheses and 43 orthoses in the first four months of 1996.

 Cooperation with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society  

The ICRC has been assisting the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in holding dissemination and information sessions in schools and universities in the seven governorates of Anbar, Baghdad, Basra, Dyala, Kut, Mosul and Najaf. Specific topics have been introduced in certain governorates; in Najaf the focus was on the ICRC's orthopaedic activities, in Basra on its tracing work, and in Diyala on humanitarian law for an audience of university students. Since the beginning of the year a total of 5,585 participants have attended the 96 sessions. The governorates of Kirkuk and Tikrit are to be added to the list as from June. A three-day training seminar was held from 8 to 10 June to train the newcomers and continue training all dissemination volunteers.


In northern Iraq, in March, the ICRC organized 18 educational sessions on basic humanitarian principles and its detention-related activities in 13 places of detention for 1,200 participants. The latest round has just been started in nine places of detention to an estimated 450 people.

In April delegates held two presentations for an audience of 350 at the Law Faculty of the University of Arbil, touching on international humanitarian law in northern Iraq and the history of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. ICRC publications on humanitarian law were handed over to the Faculty, as well as the texts of the presentations in English and Kurdish.

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