Iraq: Daily bulletin – 2 April 2003
02-04-2003 Operational Update
Latest reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad and Basra
GENERAL (covering 1 April)
The ICRC is becoming increasingly concerned about the situation in towns such as Najaf, Kerbala and Nasiriya, which have been the scene of heavy fighting for days now and which neither international humanitarian organizations nor journalists have been able to visit.
An ICRC team - including one doctor and one water engineer - visited Hilla (100 km south of Baghdad) to assess the medical and water situation. When the team reached Hilla surgical hospital, they saw vehicles transporting corpses of men, women and children arriving. Inside the hospital they saw at least 280 people who had sustained injuries. It appears that this was the result of heavy fighting and bombardment in the course of the previous 48 hours in and near the town of Hindiya near Hilla. The hospital and other medical facilities are having great difficulties facing this emergency. The ICRC immediately provided dressing materials for 100 war-wounded patients as well as i.v. fluid sets, body bags and blankets. Additional assistance will be delivered as soon as possible.
BAGHDAD (covering 1 April)
The ICRC continued to transport additional drinking water to some suburbs of Baghdad as well as to parts of the city poorly supplied by the water network. 190 cu bic metres of water (190,000 litres) were trucked yesterday. Furthermore, maintenance and repair work carried on at water-treatment plants and other water facilities in the capital, while 14,000 one-litre bags of drinking water were delivered to two orphanages and two hospitals.
Repair work on the water and power systems of seven different hospitals was ongoing.
BASRA (covering 1 April)
The ICRC in Basra confirms that work to connect three additional back-up generators at Wafa'Al-Qaed pumping station has been successful. As of 2 April it should be possible to resume the water supply to several water-treatment plants in the city, thereby increasing the capacity of piped water available to the population. The ICRC has also begun using five rented water trucks to provide water to the district of Al-Zubayr near Basra. Furthermore, four ICRC water trucks are being used to supply Basra's three main hospitals with additional water.
Monitoring the health situation
The ICRC continues to closely monitor the situation in three hospitals which are now also being supported by a number of Iraqi Red Crescent Society volunteers. Fortunately, so far there are no indications of a possible outbreak of epidemics.
OTHER REGIONS (covering 1 April)
Regular reports by engineers of the Iraqi authorities, compiled on the basis of daily field trips to different towns and districts outside Baghdad and Basra, indicate that in many areas the water situation is critical. These reports confirm that entire towns and suburbs have now been without piped water for about a week, including several district towns north of Dhi Qar and Najaf but also towns south of Basra such as Al-Zubayr (see above) and Safwan. A rapid survey carried out by an ICRC engineer on 31 March and 1 April indicates that major water-treatment plants in Ramadi and Felluja (west of Baghdad) and Al-Hilla, Iskandariya and Mamoudiyah (south of Baghdad) are now only operating at 40 to 50 % of their normal capacity, owing to repeated power cuts. The ICRC is providing technical assistance to secure the operation of back-up generators for the most important water-treatment plants to ensure that they can at least continue to operate at limited capacity.