Iraq: ICRC activities in September 2008
16-10-2008 Operational Update
After a period of relative improvement in the overall security situation, the month of Ramadan was marked by an increase in violence in Baghdad, Mosul and other major cities and life remained difficult for most of the Iraqi population.
A wave of cholera broke out in various governorates during the hottest months and peaked in mid-September, as Iraqis continued to endure severe shortages of clean drinking water and electricity.
In mid-September, Choman district, in Erbil governorate, and Pashdar district, in Sulaymaniyah governorate, were suddenly hit by heavy rainstorms and flash flooding. The downpour began at night, catching the population in their sleep. The ICRC provided essential items to 120 families that were made homeless and lost all their possessions.
To help medical facilities provide essential care, the ICRC delivered over 100 tonnes of medicines and dressing materials to nine hospitals and seven primary health-care centres in eight different governorates. By pressing ahead with major renovation projects in various facilities, the ICRC confirmed its commitment to helping maintain adequate hygiene and vital services in hospitals.
ICRC distributes relief items for Ramadan to vulnerable people
The month of September coincided with the month of Ramadan, a holy month for all Muslims, with significant religious values and traditions. During Ramadan, the ICRC carried out a special distribution of relief items to vulnerable people. Over 9,300 families received food and essential household items. In choosing the beneficiaries, priority was given to institutions providing pa tients with round-the-clock care but receiving no regular support from the local authorities, charity organizations or humanitarian organizations.
" Vulnerable groups such as people with physical or mental disabilities, orphans, households headed by women, and the elderly are often forgotten in the midst of violence, " said Juan-Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation for Iraq. " They are generally unable to fend for themselves and are often in urgent need of help. "
The beneficiaries received rice, beans, lentils, oil, sugar, salt, tomato paste, tea, hygiene items and other household essentials. The aid was delivered in the governorates of Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Dohuk, Erbil, Najaf, Salahaddine and Sulaymaniyah by 86 non-governmental organizations and local social-welfare institutions.
Emergency assistance for people affected by floods in northern Iraq
The ICRC provided emergency assistance for 120 families in the Quandil mountain area of northern Iraq, who lost all their possessions and were made homeless by heavy rain and flooding.
In Choman district, houses, tents and vast tracts of farmland were washed away, and the intake structures of irrigation canals were seriously damaged. In addition, the floods killed four people and 100 livestock. A total of 70 families lost their shelter, their personal belongings and their productive assets. In Phashdar district, floods washed away 50 tents used by internally displaced people who had settled on a steep slope near Mangory Bridge.
On the day after the floods, the ICRC assessed the damage and distributed tents, blankets, food parcels, hygiene kits and other essential household items.
Visiting people deprived of their freedom
During the month of September, the ICRC carried out a visit – the second of its kind – to Rusafa Federal Prison in Baghdad city, run by the Ministry of Justice. In the course of the visit the ICRC assessed the conditions of detention of some 6,000 people held in the facility, including female detainees who had recently been transferred from Kadhimia Prison, also in Baghdad.
The ICRC continued to visit people held by the Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF-I) in Camp Cropper and Camp Remembrance at Baghdad International Airport, and in one transitory detention facility in the Tikrit area, north of Baghdad.
For the first time since an agreement was signed with the Iraqi government, the ICRC helped three foreign nationals released by the Ministry of Justice to return to their home country.
Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has facilitated the voluntary return to their countries of 23 foreigners formerly interned by MNF-I.
Helping hospitals maintain vital services
The ICRC is carrying out major renova tion projects in various Iraqi health-care facilities as part of its ongoing effort to help the Iraqi health authorities maintain adequate hygiene and vital services in hospitals. In September, the ICRC completed four projects in facilities in Baghdad.
Hygiene was improved in Al-Imam Ali General Hospital (385 beds) in Sadr City through the repair of sanitary facilities in four areas. Other hospital equipment, such as refrigerators used to store vaccines and food, and the electrical distribution system were also upgraded.
In Abu-Ghraib General Hospital (110 beds) in Baghdad governorate, the water supply system was improved through the installation of new storage tanks with a total capacity of 92 cubic metres. In addition, toilets were repaired and sewage evacuation systems improved.
A new ICRC-supplied generator was installed in Al-Numan General Hospital (380 beds) in Aadamiya Sector to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of electrical power to the emergency unit.
Conditions for the safe storage of blood and plasma were improved at the National Centre for Blood Transfusion through the repair of refrigerators and through upgrades to the electrical system.
In an emergency response to an explosion in Ninawa governorate which left 52 wounded, the ICRC distributed one and a half tonnes of medical supplies to Talafar General Hospital and Dohuk Emergency Hospital, enabling them to cope with the influx of casualties.
In response to a resurgence of cholera cases in several governorates, the ICRC supplied Al Hashimiya General Hospital, in Babil governorate, with five tonnes of fluids, gloves and masks, to help medical personnel cope with the outbreak of the disease. Furthermore, infusions were provided for Al Karkh Directorate of Health in Baghdad to replenish their stocks.
In addition, the ICRC delivered over 100 tonnes of medicines and dressing material to nine hospitals and seven primary health-care centres in the governorates of Anbar, Basra, Erbil, Diyala, Kirkuk, Missan, Ninawa and Thi-Qar to help them cope with daily surgical and obstaetrical needs over a two-month period.
Assisting physically disabled people
In response to the growing number of people with disabilities, the ICRC continues to provide support for nine physical rehabilitation centres in Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Hilla, Mosul, Najaf and Tikrit, and for three units producing crutches in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil. In September, it provided six of the physical rehabilitation centres with the materials required to produce 300 prostheses and 500 orthoses.