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Iraq: overview of ICRC operations, mid-2004

11-08-2004 Operational Update

Amid continuing violence, with often severe consequences for the civilian population in Iraq, the ICRC has maintained its activities throughout the country, despite security constraints.


  In the first half of 2004 the ICRC:

  • visited thousands of prisoners of war, civilian internees and security detainees
  • provided medical, water and other essential supplies to hospitals caring for the wounded
  • carried out emergency repair work on hundreds of water treatment and sewage stations serving millions of people across the country
  • completed more than 30 structural rehabilitation projects in hospitals, health-care centres and water and sanitation plants
  • regularly tanked in water to areas of cities, including Baghdad and Basra, with limited or no alternative source of supply
  • delivered food, water and other essential aid were to families displaced by the hostilities

    Figures at end of May    

Armed confrontations that escalated in April, with fighting taking place in densely populated urban areas, have left many people killed and injured and caused the displacement of many families. The security situation has been exacerbated by a rise in kidnappings and hostage-taking, as well as attacks against Iraqi officials.

The general impact has been to hinder access by a war-weary population to essential services and to hamper reconstruction efforts.

In the first half of 2004 the ICRC has, despite these difficulties, retained an effective operational capacity in Iraq and remains one of the few international humanitarian organizations carrying out a broad range of relief and protection activities on a continuous basis in most parts of the country .  

Its team of more than 400 national staff, backed up by expatriate colleagues operating from permanent bases in northern Iraq and through missions from Amman in neighbouring Jordan, played a central role in these emergency-response activities.

 Visits to detainees  

Regular visits were made by delegates to people in the custody of the Coalition Forces (now the Multinational Force), and Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, in order to monitor their treatment and conditions of detention, and to enable them to re-establish or maintain contact with their families. Over a hundred foreigners were repatriated under ICRC auspices after their release from detention in Iraq.

Despite the severe security constraints,   the ICRC was able to respond to many critical emergency situations arising from the escalation of armed violence.

A particular concern has been the rise in the number of casualties and families displaced by the fighting. In response, the ICRC provided assistance in the form of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals treating the wounded, and essential aid to displaced families.

Extensive emergency rehabilitation and repair work was carried out at vital health, water and sanitation facil ities serving millions of people throughout the country, and water deliveries continued to be made by ICRC tanker fleets to city areas with limited or no alternative sources of supply.

 Read also:  

Iraq post-28 June 2004: protecting persons deprived of freedom remains a priority  

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