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Iraq: Daily bulletin - 5 April 2003

05-04-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil. Continuous inflow of war-wounded into hospitals in Baghdad. ICRC staff suspend movements in the capital.

 GENERAL ( 5 April)

Fighting in and near Baghdad appears to have continued pretty much unabated. The ICRC delegation in Baghdad is hearing the continuous sound of fighting from some parts of the city. Because of the security situation, the delegation has decided to temporarily suspend movements of staff in the city. Iraqi ICRC employees have been sent home to be with their families while international staff stay at the office.

The electricity supply remains mostly out of order and some parts of Baghdad reportedly no longer have piped water.

Increasing military activity is reported along the front line in northern Iraq separating coalition forces and Kurdish factions on the one hand from Iraqi forces on the other. This has caused some concern among the population in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq. Overnight from 3 to 4 April, many people fled the town of Dohuk to villages in the mountains. However, many of them returned home on the following day.

The ICRC convoy that brought medical supplies to the city of Basra on 4 April has now returned to Kuwait.

 Medical assistance for hospitals  

Hospitals in Baghdad visited this morning report a continuous inflow of war-wounded patients and say they are treating hundreds of casualties. Hospital staff and facilities are stretched to the limits. 

On Friday, four Baghdad hospitals visited by ICRC medical staff reported that they had received several hundred war-wounded patients as well as dozens of fatalities. The hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the situation. While they have to rely on back-up systems such as generators to operate, personnel face the difficult choice of staying at home with their families or coming to work.

The ICRC delivered 150 blankets and 50 body bags to Al-Yarmouk general teaching hospital.

In Basra, the ICRC continued to distribute to hospitals the medical materials brought in by the organization's first convoy on 4 April. The ICRC is also trucking water to the three main hospitals as well as to locations in the neighbouring district of Al-Zubayr.

 Assistance to internally displaced persons  

In northern Iraq, the ICRC continues to monitor closely the situation of families leaving their homes because of the conflict. ICRC staff assessed the situation in Aqra in Dohuk governorate on Friday and distributed assistance to 34 vulnerable families (about 150 persons).