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Iraq: Daily bulletin – 8 April 2003, updated

08-04-2003 Operational Update

Latest reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad and Basra

 BAGHDAD (update of 8 April)

The situation in the city is extremely critical, with heavy fighting taking place in central areas. Hospitals are reported to be overwhelmed by the inflow of war-wounded patients.

The ICRC delivered surgical assistance to the Medical City hospital complex (650 beds). The complex has neither water nor power, and only 6 out of 27 operating theatres could still be used. ICRC engineers are trying to restore the water supply.

The ICRC also visited the Ibn Nafis hospital, where it saw three injured foreign journalists who were being treated there.

The water supply for Baghdad is becoming an issue of major concern following reports that the Qanat raw water pumping station in the north of the city has stopped functioning.

 BAGHDAD (7 April)

 General situation  

" Travelling round the city to r each the hospitals you know you are in a city at war: practically no pedestrians, a few people peeping out of their front doors but staying carefully inside, debris and burnt out cars on some roads, cars speeding and the distinct sound of artillery in the distance. " (report from ICRC Baghdad, 7 April).

In general, the ICRC's activities have been hampered by the security situation which has made it impossible to reach some of the hospitals and water facilities usually visited. For the same reason, many of the ICRC's Iraqi staff have not been able to come to work. Power supply for the city has been reduced - which has also had a negative impact on the water supply: in the area of Saddam City, for example, the flow of tap water has been cut by half. 

 Activities at hospitals  

  •  Influx of wounded : Today (7 April) the ICRC medical team could only visit the Al-Kindi hospital because of the security situation. In the morning, the hospital was receiving about 10 wounded patients an hour. Even after three days of non-stop work, the medical staff at the hospital are still providing professional care for their patients. Once patients are sufficiently stabilized they are immediately transferred to other hospitals.

  •  ICRC assistance : The ICRC provided about two tonnes of medical assistance including drugs for anaesthesia and supplies sufficient for 100 wounded patients requiring surgery. The ICRC also gave dressing material and surgical instruments to the director of another hospital who visited the ICRC office.

  •  Water : Drinking water was dis tributed to three surgical hospitals; others could not be reached. And some 5,400 one-litre bags of drinking water were supplied to Al Karama and Al Mansour hospitals. 

  •  Maintenance : The main surgical hospitals now rely for the most part on their back-up generators for electric power. Many of the generators have been working non-stop for three days now, and risk breaking down. ICRC-hired contractors have helped staff of the health ministry to maintain generators at the Al Karama and Medical City hospitals. Three smaller generators have also been supplied and installed for casualty units and operating theatres at Al Karama, Shahad Adnan and Baghdad teaching hospital.

 City water and sanitation concerns  

According to the Iraqi authorities, all water treatment works and sewage stations now rely solely on back-up generators because the normal power supply has been reduced. They also report that a number of water treatment works and sewage pumping stations in eastern and southern Baghdad have shut down.

The ICRC's distribution of drinking water to parts of Baghdad that are not - or only partially - connected to the water network was limited because of security concerns. Two tanker trucks managed to distribute potable water to seven water distribution points in central Rusafa.

 BASRA (6 April)

The city has been hit by widespread looting which has not spared some of the water facilities. Systems at these stations are no longer maintained as the personnel have fled. 

The ICRC provided oral rehydration salts to a paediatric hospital.