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Iraq: Daily bulletin - 26 March 2003

26-03-2003 Operational Update

Field reports from Baghdad and Erbil

 BAGHDAD (covering 25 March )

 General situation: Baghdad was covered by a huge sandstorm that engulfed the whole city.


 Contacts with authorities: these continue, on the question of POWs held by Iraq as well as medical and water issues.


 Hospital assessments : all hospitals are coping for the time being but are concerned about a sudden mass increase in the number of war-wounded. ICRC is trying to help them prepare for such an eventuality:

  •  Al-Yarmouk general teaching hospita l: 400 blankets distributed (bringing the total to 520); measures taken to protect windows in exposed areas against possible damage; ICRC will install a second triage area inside the hospital – a tent fully equipped with dressing materials – to enable medical staff to react quickly in case of a large influx of war wounded .  

  •  Al-Kindi hospital: 200 blankets to be delivered today (26 March); measures taken to protect windows in sensitive areas.

  •  Al Numan surgical hospital: Dressing ma terial and first aid supplies to be provided today (26 March).


 Other care facilities: ICRC medical and water/habitat personnel have begun visiting a number of institutions such as orphanages and the psychiatric hospital to check on their situation and possible needs. These visits will continue on a regular basis.


 Water and Habitat : A main water treatment plant serving southern areas of Baghdad was out of order for a time following attacks. The ICRC immediately went to the site to reconnect the pumping units and power control system. However, by the afternoon only 60 per cent of the capacity had been restored with the ICRC providing additional safe water from two of its pre-positioned purification units.

The ICRC provided emergency water supplies to four major hospitals following an interruption in the supply caused by the break-down of another water treatment plant (not related to war damage) .  

Production and delivery to hospitals and clinics of one-litre bags of drinking water continues; five bladder tanks have been installed in medical facilities as a back-up facility; construction on five additional tanks has begun. 180 cubic metres of drinking water transported to ICRC distribution points in the poorly-served Rusafa Bank area and to three health centres.

 ERBIL, northern Iraq:  

 General situation : due to the extreme cold in the hills where people had fled in fear of fighting, there has been some movement ba ck towards the towns. Measures have been taken by the authorities to try to have shops re-opened. Nonetheless the fear remains that fighting may erupt at any moment.

There have also been population movements around Halabja and Khurmal following fighting in the area; according to the authorities, almost all the villagers have left this area to find refuge with family members elsewhere.

 Contacts with authorities : these are made with the aim of monitoring population movements and assessing basic needs, as well as to allow ICRC protection activities to continue.

 Assistance : so far, the ICRC has assisted 107 families in the Erbil area with basic relief items. More may follow after a survey has been done. Assessment of needs continue in other areas: about 4,000 families have been registered by the ICRC in the Penjwin area, 1,216 in Sangaw and 700 others in Qaradagh. Further assessments will be done shortly in the Jhurmal, Sayed Sadeq and Halabja areas. The Iraqi Red Crescent says it has 1,000 blankets and 400 jerry cans available for emergency distributions.

 Medical : situation calm and under control at present.