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December 2009

Iraq: redoubling efforts to boost medical care for civilians

Decades of conflict have had a serious impact on the Iraqi health-care system and on the ability of civilians to
obtain appropriate treatment. The ICRC has been supporting the system by delivering regular and emergency
supplies to hospitals and, more importantly, by providing training for Iraqi doctors and nurses on war surgery,
trauma management, infection control and delivery of first aid. "These seminars are important not only
because of the topics covered but also because of what they teach us about sharing information and
communicating with patients, something not generally taught in our system today," said Dr Jawad
Ramadan, one of the surgeons participating in a three-day seminar on war surgery held in December for
40 doctors from different parts of the country. The seminar was organized by the ICRC in cooperation
with Iraq's Ministry of Health and with the Ministry of Health of the Kurdistan regional government.
Another 26 doctors and nurses attended a course on emergency-room trauma, and 21 volunteers from the
Iraqi Red Crescent Society were given advanced training in proper first-aid delivery. "Courses such as these
aim at improving the quality of health care provided for civilians, in particular by enabling medical staff to
better cope with emergency situations and mass casualties," said Cedric Clerc, the ICRC delegate in charge
of the training programme in Iraq.
The ICRC also provides the Iraqi health authorities with support for limb-fitting centres and physical
rehabilitation programmes. An annual seminar on providing prostheses, orthoses and wheelchairs for
disabled people recently held in Erbil was attended by 57 participants, including managers, technicians,
physiotherapists and representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Higher Education. In
addition, two prosthetists/orthotists and one physiotherapist from the ICRC-supported limb-fitting centre
in Najaf attended a course on adapting wheelchairs to patients' needs and training patients in their use.
The ICRC recently completed a two-year reconstruction project at Al Jumhury General Hospital in Kirkuk,
the main hospital in the governorate, which serves around 750,000 people. "This project, one of our biggest
worldwide, gives an important boost to medical care in the area," said Laurent Poli, an ICRC water engineer
working in Iraq. "We completely refurbished five of the 13 buildings in the hospital complex as well as the
water supply and sewage systems."

Visiting detainees Disabled detainees in Chamchamal prison, Sulaimaniya

governorate, were given crutches.
The ICRC regularly visits detention facilities run by various
Iraqi ministries and the US authorities, where it monitors Over 4,000 Red Cross messages were exchanged
conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees. between detainees and their families in December. The
In December, ICRC delegates visited detainees: ICRC and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society work together to
ensure that detainees and their families can stay in
● held under the authority of the Ministry of Justice in touch and exchange family news.
Fort Suse, Sulaimaniya governorate, and in Nasiriya
correctional prison, Thi-Qar governorate; Clarifying what happened to missing persons
● held under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Thousands of families still do not know what happened
Interior in Tasfirat Kirkuk, Kirkuk governorate, in to their loved ones who went missing in the various
Tasfirat Diwaniya, Diwaniya governorate and in conflicts that have afflicted Iraq. The ICRC continues to
the Counter-Terrorism Directorate, Baghdad support the efforts of the authorities to determine the
governorate; whereabouts of thousands of people still unaccounted
for as a result of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and the
● held under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, 1990-1991 Gulf War. Since 2003, the organization has
the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and various been training local forensic experts in the identification
security forces in northern Iraq in five prisons in Erbil, and management of mortal remains.
Dohuk and Sulaimaniya governorates.
In December, the Kuwaiti authorities handed over to the
In addition, the ICRC started repairing the sewage Ministry of Human Rights and Al Zubair Centre of Iraq the
lifting station in the Counter-Terrorism Directorate, remains of three unknown Iraqis under the auspices of
which will allow safe disposal of sewage from this place the ICRC. Once identified, the remains will be handed
of detention and from the women's section of Russafa over to the families, who will finally be able to turn the
prison, located in the same compound. page on a long and painful chapter of their lives.
Bringing aid to vulnerable people ● replaced the pumps and carried out maintenance
work on the chemical treatment units in Habaniya
The ICRC has maintained its support for people water treatment plant, Anbar governorate, to
facing special difficulties earning a living and increase the quantity and improve the quality of
supporting their families, such as women heading water delivered to about 30,000 people;
households and people with disabilities, and its
efforts to help communities earn income and ● fully repaired Ramadi water treatment plant,
achieve economic self-sufficiency. In December: the largest such facility in Anbar governorate,
serving around 450,000 people;
● more than 36,000 displaced people (IDPs) living in
● replaced the chemical treatment units in 14
group settlements in Diyala, Salah Al-Din and Kirkuk
compact units around Babil governorate providing
governorates were given kitchen sets, thermoses,
potable water for 180,000 inhabitants;
teapots, kettles, jerrycans, buckets, blankets,
hygiene kits and tarpaulins to help them cope with ● repaired the filtration and chlorine systems in
the harsh winter conditions; Taza water treatment plant, Kirkuk governorate,
providing drinking water for 25,000 people;
● more than 2,200 households headed by women
were given monthly food parcels and hygiene ● renovated Tabat Al-Kurd boosting station in
items in Baghdad, Diyala, Salah Al-Din and Ninawa Baghdad, serving 4,000 people in the area of
governorates; Al-Fadhil;

● about 94 disabled people in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaimaniya ● repaired four boreholes in the Jabara area,
and Ninawa governorates benefited from projects Diyala governorate, to increase the quantity of
enabling them to start small businesses and regain water delivered to 7,000 people;
economic self-sufficiency.
● supplied and installed four pumps and conducted
repair works in Khawaja Khalil water treatment
Providing clean water and sanitation plant, Ninawa governorate, providing water for
ICRC water engineers continued to repair and 60,000 people.
upgrade water, electrical and sanitation facilities all Water was delivered by truck to:
over Iraq. The aim was to enhance access for civilians
to clean water and improve the quality of services ● 4,500 displaced people in Sadr City and 340
provided in communities and health-care facilities. In displaced people in Husseinia and Ma'amil and
December, ICRC engineers: in Baghdad Teaching Hospital, all in Baghdad
● built a consultation building in Al Qaim General
Hospital, Al Qaim district, which was severely ● Qalawa Quarter camp in Sulaimaniya, hosting
damaged amid fighting in 2005. The new structure around 360 displaced people.
enables the hospital to treat up to 1,000 patients
per day; Promoting international humanitarian law
● built a primary health-care centre in Nizary, Soran Reminding parties to a conflict of their obligation
district, serving around 1,500 people from 60 to protect civilians is a fundamental part of the
villages in the remote area of Sidakan sub-district, ICRC’s work. The organization also endeavours to
near the Turkish border; promote international humanitarian law within civil
society. In this framework, a series of presentations
● completed construction of a paediatric unit in were organized for various audiences all over Iraq
Sinjar Hospital, Ninawa governorate, serving around which included military personnel, students and
300,000 people; professors.

ICRC Mission The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent
organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed
conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to
prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.
Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement. It directs and coordinates the international activities conducted by the Movement in
armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

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