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Iraq: Daily bulletin - 28 March 2003

28-03-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in the field in Baghdad, Basra and Arbil, northern Iraq



Yesterday the ICRC received reports from different sources of severe water shortages in several governorates (Nalnawa, Kerbela, Dia Qar, Wasit) due either to failures of the national electricity grid, a reduction in the water supply to water treatment plants, or hostilities on the ground. As a result several urban centres such as Naseriyah and possibly Najaf and Kerbela have most likely now been without drinking water for several days.

Also since yesterday telecommunications with Iraq have been disrupted, following reported attacks on communication facilities. As a result, the ICRC's delegation in Baghdad no longer has the use of normal land lines, and is now relying entirely on satellite phones. Information from our colleagues in Basra is therefore very limited in today's bulletin.

(covering 27 March)

Regular checks continued on the war-wounded being admitted to city hospitals. Also, for the first time, the ICRC team visited a 110-bed hospital 15 kilometres west of Baghdad.

A tent for a first-aid post was erected at Al-Yarmouk general teaching hospital.

The ICRC provided 250 blankets to Al-Numan general hospital and one kit for a first-aid post to Al-Khark hospital. The ICRC's delegation in Baghdad reports that for the moment they still have extensive stocks of surgical materials including dressing kits for the treatment of war-wounded.

Further discu ssions were held with the relevant authorities on how to operate water treatment works in an emergency, while urgent maintenance work was carried out at several water plants in the Baghdad area. At the same time, transport of supplementary drinking water to poorly served areas of the capital as well as health centres and hospitals continued. The ICRC also pursued general repair and maintenance work at various hospitals and an orphanage (for more detailed information on these activities see yesterday's bulletin).

The ICRC delegation gave three foreign students from the former Soviet Union the chance to call their families by satellite phone. The delegation is also following up a number of enquiries concerning the whereabouts of foreign journalists and peace activists who are reportedly in Baghdad.

(27 March)

The ICRC's delegation in Kuwait was in the process of procuring spare parts needed to start up the remaining three back-up generators at the Wafa'Al-Qaed pumping station north of Basra.



Basic information on the ICRC's assistance capacities: what can we provide, how much per person and how much does it cost?



  • The ICRC has sufficient food stocks in Iraq and neighbouring countries to feed 180,000 people affected by the war for one month. It could also supply hospitals and other institutions in Baghdad with adequate food for 5,000 p eople for one month.

  • A full food ration per person per month consists of: 6 kg wheat flower, 6 kg rice, 4 kg lentils, 2 litres vegetable oil, 1 kg sugar, 300g iodised salt. The approximate cost of this is 10.6 Swiss francs per month per person.

  • A standard non-food kit for a family of six consists of: 6 blankets, 1 bucket, 2 jerry cans, 1 kitchen set, 1 heater, 1 stove, 1 hygiene parcel. This kit costs about 140 to 150 Swiss francs per family.

  • These rations may be adapted according to specific needs observed by the ICRC in the field.


 Medical assistance  


Here are some of the standard assistance packages distributed by the ICRC:

  • First-aid kit for war-wounded: medicines and dressings for the pre-hospital treatment of war-wounded. Sufficient for 100 patients, only about 60-70 of whom will then need transfer to a hospital.

  • Kit for 100 war-wounded: medical and surgical supplies for 100 war-wounded patients hospitalized and requiring surgery. Since normally 30-40% of war-wounded patients do not require hospitalization or surgery, this kit covers about 140 war-wounded patients.

  • Dressing sets: sufficient dressing material for 10 seriously injured patients or 100-150 simple dressings.

  • New emergency health kits: standard international kit: adequate basic medicines to cover the medical needs of a civilian population of 30,000 people for one month.




Supporting and maintaining the water-supply infrastructure is one of the ICRC's priorities. In the initial phase, our work focuses on carrying out emergency repairs on infrastructure that could benefit up to three million people.

  • A human being needs at least 2 to 6 litres of water per day depending on the climate and the activity they carry out. However, all other water needs (cooking, personal hygiene, washing etc.) need to be added. In Iraqi rural areas it can be reasonably assumed that the normal average consumption is between 30 and 50 litres per person per day; in urban areas 100 to 170 litres per day (for comparison: average consumption in Switzerland: 165 litres per person per day).