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Iraq: ICRC activities in 2007

13-03-2008 Operational Update

People in Iraq continued to be subject to relentless violence throughout 2007, living in fear of their lives as a result of indiscriminate attacks, targeted killings, abductions and intimidation. Despite security constraints, the ICRC continued to help people in need.


An elderly man who has received kitchen utensils.    
    Despite the relative improvement in the security situation in Baghdad and some other Iraqi governorates, which occurred particularly during the second half of 2007, the ICRC remains concerned that civilians continue to bear the brunt of the hostilities in Iraq. Civilians continue to live a precarious existence as a result of the ongoing non-international armed conflict involving government/multinational forces and armed groups, suicide bombings, kidnappi ngs and other forms of violence. In addition, many Iraqis have lost their homes, belongings and jobs, particularly during the first half of the year, as large-scale population displacements continued in Iraq and to neighbouring countries.

 Displacement and returnees  

The persistent sectarian violence, particularly in mixed Shia-Sunni urban neighbourhoods, has led to hundreds of thousands of people being forced to leave their homes. Although the exact numbers of displaced persons is difficult to assess, it is clear that the pace of displacement diminished greatly in the second half of 2007. However, by the end of the year there were only limited signs of internally displaced people and refugees returning to their original homes.

Distribution of ICRC assistance material to vulnerable families.    

 Increase in arrests and detention  

Public attention was brought during 2007 to the issue of persons arrested and deprived of freedom in Iraq, as a result of the significant increase in the tens of thousands of people being detained in custody by the Iraqi authorities and the multinational forces. 


 Daily lives of Iraqis continue to be affected by a lack of essential services  

Unemployment and poverty levels are soaring, and much of the population is reliant on fluctuating levels of government food distributions to cover daily needs.

The hostilities, compounded by rampant criminality, continue to hinder efforts by humanitarian actors to help those most in need. The continued high-level of security risk prevents many international and non-governmental organizations from deploying personnel in Iraq, and adds to the burden of those humanitarian organizations that are able to work on the ground. Health facilities struggle to cope with emergencies owing to shortages of qualified staff and medical resources.

  ©CICR / iq-e-00650    
Families visiting detainees at camp Bucca.    
     Visits to places of detention
Visits to places of detention – carried out exclusively by expatriate ICRC delegates, aim at monitoring the treatment and material conditions of detention, and preventing disappearances, summary executions and ill treatment. They also allow the detainees to exchange family news with their relatives, through Red Cross Messages (an open letter written by the sender, carrying news of personal and family nature only) and telephone calls (salamat) made by the ICRC personnel on behalf of the detainees.

In 2007, the ICRC visited 21 places of detention where over 33,500 detainees were held under the authority of the US and UK Multinational Forces in Iraq, the Iraqi Ministry of Justice and the Kurdistan Regional Government. It conducted private interviews with 5,000 of these detainees.

 Restoring Family Links
The ICRC’s Central Tracing Agency works to restore family links between persons separated by armed conflict. These can be persons held in places of detention, civilians separated by armed conflict such as internally displaced people, refugees, etc. The ICRC tries to establish their whereabouts and put them back into contact with each other. This is possible through the sharing of Red Cross Messages collected and distributed by the ICRC with the help of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS). In addition, the ICRC family links website plays an important role in this process :  

In order to help family members visit their detained relatives, the ICRC continued in 2007 to contribute to their travel expenses to Camp Bucca and the Divisional Internment Facility at Basra Airport. More than 11,600 detainees benefited from this programme (31,000 family members received an ICRC travel allowance upon completing their visit to a detained relative).

Furthermore, 22 persons received ICRC travel documents in 2007, and the ICRC facilitated the repatriation of nine detainees of foreign nationality to their home countries upon release, after having ascertained their willingness to return home.


Detention places visited by the ICRC in 2007
  • Under the authority of Multinational forces in Iraq: Camp Bucca, Camp Cropper, Camp Remembrance and Divisional Internment Facility of Basra Airport
  • Places under the authority of the Ministry of Justice: Fort Suse
  • Places under the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government: Aqra, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Dohuk, Darbandikan, Kalar, Shaqlawa, Mahata.
  • Over 76,000 messages were exchanged between detainees and their relatives in 2007.
 The ICRC continues its efforts to clarify the fate of the missing
For many Iraqis the uncertainty regarding the fate of their missing relatives is the cause of great suffering.

With the relevant authorities, the ICRC strives to ascertain the fate of people unaccounted for as a result of armed conflict. In 2007, the ICRC successfully determined the fate of 94 missing Iraqis. It also continued to support local authorities'efforts to establish a mechanism to ascertain the fate of those missing as a result of the Iran-Iraq conflict.

As for those missing as a result of the Gulf War of 1990-1991, the annual meeting of the Tripartite Commission (Iraq, Kuwait and the Coalition representatives), chaired by the ICRC, took place in November 2007. Twelve cases were closed during the year, bringing the total number to 293.

 Response to medical emergencies  

The aim of the ICRC health programme is to ensure that victims of conflict have access to essential healthcare of a universally accepted standard.

The ICRC continued to focus in 2007 on responding effectively to the mass casualties caused by armed clashes and bomb explosions.

The ICRC also organized training courses including seminars in Advanced First Aid, Emergency Room Trauma Management and War Surgery for 80 healthcare professionals from all over Iraq.

The ICRC was equally concerned by the general healthcare situation and in particular by the cholera outbreak that occurred in 2007. It delivered over 100 tonnes of emergency medical supplies needed to combat the disease to Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Basra governorates.

In this way, the ICRC was able to assist the most vulnerable Iraqis, including internally displaced people (IDPs), by helping to control the cholera outbreak and contributing to limiting its spread to othe r parts of the country.

Support to health infrastructure
In 2007, the ICRC continued to repair or renovate vital components in health facilities in areas affected by military operations, violence or those facing a high influx of displaced people.

The ICRC also constructed new primary healthcare centres in areas deprived of health facilities. In addition, it rehabilitated entire health infrastructures in various governorates.

Equipment to treat over 5,000 war wounded
  • In response to mass attacks the ICRC provided 28 hospitals with war wounded kits and medical material, sufficient to treat over 5,000 casualties. It also equipped 73 emergency rooms in 69 hospitals and other medical facilities and 27 operating theatres.
  • Medical material (anaesthesia, dressings, syringes) was delivered to 84 hospitals and 12 primary healthcare centres.


 Rehabilitation of existing health infrastructures   

The rehabilitation consists of repairing electrical and mechanical installations, water and sanitation facilities, including sewage and drainage systems. In 2007, the ICRC carried out one or more of these activities in the following hospitals or primary healthcare centres in various governorates:

 Kirkuk and Diyala   

Al Jumhury general hospital of Kirkuk (400 beds) and two primary healthcare centres in Khalis (500 patients a day).


Sheikhan Hospital (50 beds), al Shefa'a Mos ul's hospital (100 beds), al Hamdaniyah hospital (110 beds), al Smood primary healthcare centre (40 patients a day).


Primary healthcare centres in al Smood, Sad Haditha, Parawana al Ra'eesi, al Baghdadi and Khaldiyah (295 patients a day), Hadithah general hospital (120 beds), Heet hospital (100 beds).


Primary healthcare centres in Suleiman Feithi, Kalamiyah, Husseiniyah, Hay al Nasser, At Ftheiliyah, 7th, al Shuhada, Iskan, Salchiyah, Shaheed Taha (3,300 patients a day); Sheikh Dhari Surgical Centre (100 patients a day), al Numan general hospital (237 beds), Kadhimiyah Paediatrics hospital (137 beds), al Kindi hospital (400 beds); al Shaheed Mohammad Baqir al Haqeem hospital (240 beds).

Al Yarmouk, al Kadhimiyah, al Kindi teaching hospitals, Abu Ghraib general hospital, (2,150 beds).

Najaf, Missan, Thi-Qar and Basra

Al Sader teaching hospital (400 beds) - Najaf; Al Zehrawi hospital (220 beds) and al Mijer al Kabeer hospital (118 beds) - Missan; Al Hussain general hospital (400 beds) – Thi-Qar and Basra general hospital (600 beds).

  ©ICRC / iq-e-00621    
Erbil: at the ICRC-managed orthopaedic centre.    

Construction of new health infrastructure


Zhiliya/Qandil mountains: new primary healthcare centre (40 patients a day).


Debaga: new primary healthcare centre (200 patients a day).


Kolly: new primary healthcare centre (25 patients a day) – work in progress.



Al Jihad and al Shaiba primary healthcare centres (150 patients a day).

Old Basra primary healthcare centre (300 patients a day) – reconstruction in progress.
The ICRC provides drinking water to hospitals
  The ICRC supplied water on a daily basis to al Yarmouk and Baghdad teaching hospitals, as well as to al Imam Ali Hospital and to al Rashad Psychiatric Hospitals. In addition, Iskan, al Karkh and Radiotherapy hospitals received emergency water supplies totalling 630 m3 in 2007.    
 Support to medico-legal facilities  

The ICRC continued throughout the year to support the medico-legal facilities in Iraq dealing with human remains. This work is an important component of the ICRC's operations in Iraq, given the high number of unidentified mortal remains.

Also, in an effort to help medico-legal facilities to handle the very high number of cases, the ICRC provided them with forensic equipment and other assistance including body bags. In addition, it carried out essential work to renovate and improve the forensic-medical infrastructure as follows: essential maintenance work on the mortuaries of   Abu Ghraib General Hospital (100 beds), al Karkh General Hospital (180 beds), al Numan Hospital (237 beds), al Kindi Hospital (385 beds) and the neurosurgical Hospital (100 beds); renovation of six fridges at the Baghdad forensic-medical facility and one fridge each in Ba'quba and Basra forensic-medical centres.

 Water and Sanitation  

The degradation of water-sanitation infrastructures and the mass displacement of people often prevent the population from gaining access to safe, clean drinking water.

By focusing on the rehabilitation of water treatment plants, pumping stations and the existing water distribution network in the different governorates, the ICRC can make an immediate response to water-sanitation problems in Iraq, helping to provide clean water to its inhabitants and protecting the population from water-borne diseases.


The ICRC supplied and installed motor pumps for Shorsh and Kahabat Quarters in Aqra city (4,800 people) and repaired the water network in Aqra and its surroundings (55,000 people), as well as the construction of a water supply system (including borehole, storage tank and main distribution lines) in Alley collective town (15,000 people). Water supply and sanitation units were constructed in Gardacin IDP camp (2,000 people) and 22.5 m3 of drinking water continued to be distributed daily to IDPs in Dash Mir (225 families).
Water storage tank for internally displaced persons.    

The ICRC rehabilitated the water supply facilities in the Nawdasht and Shaidan valleys and in the Qandil mountains (3,000 people). In the Smelan area bordering the Qandil mountains, the ICRC completed the rehabilitation of gravity flow systems for six rural communities (1,800 people). The ICRC constructed water-supply facilities in three villages in Taq Taq /Segrdkan area (3,325 persons). In the Smelan area, which was affected by last year's floods, the ICRC distributed during the four months of winter, 30m3 of water on a daily basis to five villages (1,500 people).


The ICRC completed the repair of irrigation canals in Sinjar valley/Qandil Mountains (325 families). It also continued to supply 22.5 m3 of drinking water on a daily basis to IDPs in Qlawa Quarter in Sulaymaniyah (325 people); the ICRC additionally helped to improve sanitation services in this area. It supported the local authorities in controlling the cholera outbreak in Sulaymaniyah town in September, through the donation of disinfection material for 200 public buildings including schools and mosques and donation of a gas chlorinator for Dokan water treatment plant.

The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of water supply facilities in Hasary Gawra (5,000 people).
Over one and a half million water bags
  The ICRC produced 1,617,000 one-litre water bags which were distributed all over the country to hospitals during acute emergencies as well as to health directorates or directly to the population facing severe water shortages.
  • 65,000 1-litre water bags in Samarra during the siege of the city in May
  • 100,000 1-litre water bags to al Karama Hospital in Kut. (Wassit governorate)
  • 39,000 1-litre water bags to al Iskan, al Karkh, al Numan and al Ilwiyah hospitals (Baghdad governorate)
  • 322,000 1-litre water bags (during the cholera outbreak)
  • 45,000 water bags to 3,000 IDPs (Anbar governorate)
  • 125,000 1-litre water bags (Najaf governorate)
  • 21,000 1-litre water bags to the Directorate of Health (Babel governorate)
  • 900,000 water bags to authorities who distributed them during the Ashura festivities and the commemorations of the martyrdom of Imam Musa al Kadhim and the events of al Aimma Bridge.



The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of the water treatment plant of Khanakin (105,000 people), Qaratapa (40,000 people) and al Wahda in Jalawla town (10,000 people). It restored twater supply systems in Immam Abbass, Duru and Daka village (1,650 people), Aliawa and Deka Qadir (1,020 people) and completed the rehabilitation of the water facilities in Cheft al Aishe and Jabara town and surrounding villages (total of 10,000 people).


The ICRC repaired the water pumps of al Smood pumping station (10,000 people). At the same time it finished the construction of water supply facilities in Abu-Wajna area (13,500 people), Yadee Qou Village (2,000 people), Garbashay Sabir (3,000 people), Ein Zala (4,000 people), and Demakar village (3,500 people). It began the construction of water supply facilities in Debaga town (4,800 people), and installed a new water pump for Faida community (10,000 people). In addition, the ICRC continued to supply up to 180 m3 of drinking water on a daily basis to Faeda IDP camp, which had no access to a main water supply (2,000 people). In the Makhmoor refugee camp (13,000 people) the ICRC improved the capacity of the sanitation facilities.

 Salah al Din  

The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of the Tikrit and Hay al Askary water treatment plant (total of 50,000 people).   As a response to the cholera outbreak (July-September), the ICRC delivered two tonnes of hypochlorite and chlorinators for the water treatment plants of Salah al Din, and 14 tonnes of flocculation and chlorination agents for water and purification tablets for hospitals and primary healthcare centres in the nine governorates of the centre of Iraq.


The ICRC delivered 30,000 1-litre water bags, installed sanitation facilities and also provided shelter for the Palestinian IDPs of al Waleed camp. It also continued to distribute on a daily basis up to 75 m3 of drinking water (19,750 m3 from February to December) for up to 1,600 IDPs and ordered the manufacture of a mobile medical field clinic to be delivered in 2008. The ICRC also continued to provide 15 m3 per day of water to 200 Iranian-Kurd IDPs staying in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan (4,050 m3 from March to December).


The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of Huriyah sewage pumping station (75,000 people), Shua'ala sewage pumping station (100,000 people), the 2B boosting station (500,000 people) of the Sharq Dijla water treatment plants and 2 Compact Units in Sader City (10,000 people). It started the restoration of two compact units in Al Sinak sector (100,000 people) and installed water supply facilities to provide for 7,500 IDPs in Chekok camp. The ICRC also continued to distribute on a daily basis up to 180 m3 of drinking water to 5,350 IDPs in Al Sadr city, Bob al Sham, Sab'a Kusour and al Husseiniyah camps.
The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of Barada compact units (9,000 people) as well as the rehabilitation of the al Emarat al Sakanyah and Hay al Hussein sewage stations in Kut (50,000 people).

The ICRC started the rehabilitation of a ground storage water reservoir (350,000 people).


The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of the Najaf boosting station (540,000 people) and installed water and sanitation facilities for 600 IDPs staying in al Manathra camp.


The ICRC started the rehabilitation of the al Shatra water treatment plant (150,000 people).


The ICRC commenced the rehabilitation of the Ali al Sharqi water treatment plant (20,000 people).
More than 52,000 vulnerable displaced and resident individuals were assisted by the ICRC during the month of Ramadan with 9,200 food parcels, 300,000 kg of rice and 8,700 hygiene kits    


The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of water production and treatment facilities in Hay al Sina'i, al Khudur and Abu Sheraish districts (total of 42,000 people), and started the rehabilitation of Abdul Abbass compact unit (8,300 persons).


The ICRC completed the rehabilitation of the al Malaab boosting station (280,000 people).



In the centre of Basra city the ICRC completed emergency repair work on the primary and additional sewage pipeline serving the city (150,000 beneficiaries). It also commenced rehabilitation work in the al Shu'aiba compact units (250,000 persons).

ICRC's micro-economic projects
  • Agricultural support project: distribution of fertilizers (73 households in Qaradag in Sulaymaniyah – 4,000 households in Basra).
  • Kitchen garden project: coaching on cultivation techniques and distribution of seeds and material (40 households in Ninawa).
  • Beekeeping project: coaching on beekeeping techniques and distribution of bees and material (30 households in Ninawa).
  • Irrigation canals rehabilitation project (1,130 households in Sinjar and Sulaymaniyah).
  • Concrete block production in al Manathera IDP camp in Najaf (22 households).
  • Agricultural support project in Makhmour, Erbil (564 households).
  • Agricultural rehabilitation project in Sinjar, Ninawa (200 households).



 The ICRC reinforced its relief activities in 2007  


During 2007, the ICRC maintained a strong commitment to providing support to the victims of the conflict in Iraq, by focusing on the provision of relief and assistance to both internally displaced people (IDPs) and the resident population.

This distribution was conducted directly or in cooperation with local Iraqi partners, including the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

  • 140,000 IDPs received assistance in Sulaymaniyah, Diyala, al Anbar, Dohuk, Erbil, Najaf, Baghdad, Salah al Din and Basra governorates.

  • 60,000 vulnerable residents were assisted with 615 food parcels and 910 cans of food in Baghdad, al Anbar and Ninawa governorates

  • within the framework of its assistance agreement with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), the ICRC supplied 16 branches with relief commodities for a total of 460,950 vulnerable individuals affected by the conflict.


 6,000 families supported by Livelihood Projects  

During 2007, the ICRC launched a number of livelihood support projects, targeting mainly 6,000 vulnerable long-term IDPs and the resident population. The objective is to restore and strengthen the productive assets of the beneficiaries, and thus improve economic security at the household level.

 ICRC's orthopaedic activities  

In 2007, the ICRC continued to support physical rehabilitation centres in Baghdad, Tikrit, Hilla, Najaf and Basra, as well as the physical rehabilitation centre of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) in Mosul. It also continued to run the physical rehabilitation centre in Erbil and started   construction of a new physical rehabilitation centre in Falluja. With its help, a crutch production unit was established in Basra where the ICRC provided the necessary raw material, as well as to the al Salam production unit in Baghdad.

In addition, the ICRC trained the staff of the various centres and sponsored the overseas training of three Iraqi prosthetic and orthotic technicians to obtain an internationally recognized diploma in prosthetics and orthotics.
ICRC-supported orthopaedic centres provided physical rehabilitation services to 23,200 patients, delivering 2,550 prostheses, 6,450 orthoses and 750 crutches.    



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