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Iraq: ICRC activities in April 2009

12-05-2009 Operational Update

The ICRC remained concerned about indiscriminate attacks as civilian lives continued to be claimed in incidents in Baghdad, Ninewa, Mosul, North Diyala, Anbar and Kirkuk. It provided support for emergency medical care and maintained a range of activities benefiting the civilian population.

A hospital in Kirkuk. A man watches over his daughter, a bombing victim.    
  ©Reuters / M.Ameen    
A poor neighbourhood in Baghdad's Abu Dsheer district.    
  ©ICRC / S. Omar/ iq-e-00714    
A young patient being treated at Al Sadr hospital.    
  ©ICRC / S. Omar/ iq-e-00717    
The ICRC distributing relief items in Zafarniya, Bagdad.    
ICRC assistance for vulnerable women in the Zafarniya area of Baghdad.    
  ©ICRC / S. Omar/ iq-e-00717    
An ICRC technician at Al Wethba water pumping station, near Baghdad.    

The month of April saw an increase in bomb attacks and other security incidents in Baghdad, Ninewa, Mosul, North Diyala, Anbar and Kirkuk, where the security situation was shown to be fragile, despite improvements seen in other parts of the country. Civilian lives continued to be claimed in the violence. The ICRC remained concerned about indiscriminate attacks.

In early April, the ICRC facilitated the repatriation of eight foreign nationals released from Fort Suse Federal Prison in Suleimaniya, in the northern part of the country. " It is often difficult for foreigners held in Iraq to return home on their own when they are released, " said Laurent Saugy, coordinator for ICRC protection activities in Iraq. " The ICRC helps them return so they can be reunited with their families after their release by the detaining authorities. It does this on purely humanitarian grounds upon the request and with the full consent of the persons concerned. " This was the second time since September 2008 that the ICRC had facilitated the repatriation of foreigners released by the Iraqi authorities.

 Visiting detainees and restoring family links  

The ICRC visits detainees held by the Iraqi authorities and US/Multi-National Force – Iraq in connection with the conflict to monitor their treatment and conditions of detention. In April, the ICRC:

  • carried out a visit to the US internment facility at Camp Bucca, southern Iraq, where more than 10,000 people are currently held;

  • assess ed the treatment of prisoners held in Fort Suse Prison in Suleimaniya, northern Iraq, under the authority of the Iraqi government;

  • visited for the first time the Juvenile Correctional Facility of Al-Kharkh, Baghdad, under the authority of the Iraqi government;

  • carried out eight visits to other detention centres, mostly in the governorate of Dohuk.

The ICRC helps people deprived of their freedom to restore and maintain contact with their families by arranging for visits from their next of kin and by enabling them to share family news through Red Cross messages or phone calls.

  • More than 12,500 Red Cross messages were exchanged between detainees throughout the country and their families in April.

In mid-April, members of five Iraqi families travelled to Kuwait for the first time to visit their relatives detained in Kuwait Central Prison since the 1990-91 Gulf War. The visit was organized by the ICRC in coordination with the respective government authorities.

 Delivering aid to displaced and otherwise vulnerable people  

The ICRC continued to provide emergency and relief assistance for people displaced by the armed conflict and to those suffering the effects of natural disasters such as severe drought.

  • Food parcels, hygiene kits and essential household items were delivered to about 55,000 people in Baghdad, Al Anbar, Ninewa, Suleimaniya and Diyala governorates.

In April, food was distributed to almost 66,000 people affected by severe drought in Suleimaniya, Erbil, Dohuk, Diyala, Kirkuk and Ninewa governorates.

 Reintegrating disabled people into society  

For many years, the ICRC has been providing prosthetic/orthotic and rehabilitation services in Iraq. Since 2008, it has also been helping disabled people – landmine victims and others with motor impairments – to return to society and earn a living.

Micro-economic projects supported by the ICRC generate enough income to meet the food needs of beneficiaries and their families. In general, project participants gain confidence as they become able to support themselves and no longer have to depend on relatives.

" Two months ago, I thought I would have to close my barbershop, since it was hard for me to remain standing all day – my good leg was taking too much pressure, " said one of the project beneficiaries in Shaqlawa, Erbil governorate. " But I told myself not to give up. I had a chance to feel useful again and I didn't want to throw it away. " He managed to hire a helper and has continued to run his shop.

 Providing support for emergency medical care  


The ICRC supports the health authorities by regularly providing hospitals with medical supplies in order to maintain their capacity to respond to emergencies involving mass casualties.

In April, the ICRC delivered emergency medical items to help treat over 470 people wounded in explosions.

  • Five tonnes of disposables and medicines were delivered to Al Imam Ali General Hospital, Baghdad Medical City Teaching Hospital, Ibn Al Nafees Vascular Surgery Hospital and Kadhumiyah Teaching Hospital, in Baghdad governorate, to Jalawla General Hospital, in Diyala governorate, and to Al Mosul General Hospital, in Ninawa governorate.

 Improving water supplies and health care  

The ICRC continued to address water emergencies. In April, it delivered water by truck to:

  • Qalawa Quarter camp for displaced people (IDPs), hosting some 360 persons in Suleimaniya governorate;

  • some 4,500 displaced people in Al-Sadr City, and to Al-Rashad Psychiatry Teaching Hospital, Al-Yarmouk Teaching Hospital and Al-Imam Ali General Hospital, in Baghdad governorate.

To upgrade water and sanitation facilities in hospitals, the ICRC:

  • completed work improving the quality of drinking water in Baghdad's Al-Kindi Teaching Hospital (400 beds);

  • finished the complete renovation of the cardiac care unit in Al-Jumhury Hospital (301 beds), in Kirkuk governorate.

The ICRC carried on with its efforts to meet the water and sanitation needs of the civilian population. In April, it:

  • supplied and installed new circuit breakers at Al-Ramadi water treatment plant in Al-Anbar governorate to protect pumping systems serving around 400,000 people; it also refurbished several electrical components of Ar-Rutba's water supply system, which serves some 25,000 people;

  • cleaned pits and replaced submersible pumps in six sewage boosting stations in Basrah governorate serving around 240,000 inhabitants; it repaired a damaged roof and replaced the pumps of Al-Fao's boosting station, also in Basrah governorate, supplying water for about 50,000 inhabitants;

  • completed a major project at the Ghammas compact water unit, serving around 35,000 people in Diwaniyah governorate, which involved supplying pumps and treatment equipment as well as general cleaning;

  • completed the full renovation of a reverse osmosis water treatment unit in Malaqara, in Ninawa governorate, serving around 1,000 people;

  • completed improvements to pumping systems at Al Wathba water treatment plant, which serves around 100,000 people in Baghdad governorate;

  • finished upgrading the new Tikrit water treatment plant, which serves around 50,000 inhabitants in Salah Al-Din governorate.

In Basrah, the ICRC revamped the body storage and archive rooms at the Mortal Remains Delivery Centre and built a workshop at the training centre of the Directorate of Water.

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