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Doctors need more medical supplies in city of conflict

[Iraq] A young boy views the devastated homes around him in Fallujah. IRIN
A young boy views the devastated homes around him in Fallujah
The main hospital in Fallujah, some 60 km west of Baghdad, needs more medicines and equipment to treat people injured in recent fighting in the city, local doctors told IRIN on Monday. They have also highlighted sanitation problems in hospitals and a lack of water and power supplies. The director of the main hospital, Dr Rafa'ah Hayad Al-Iyssaue, told IRIN that the surgical rooms of the hospital were closed as the equipment was inadequate to treat patients. Instead, most of the serious cases were being taken to Baghdad's main hospitals. "Two months ago we sent an official document to the interim prime minister's office and to the Ministry of Health, telling them about our needs - a special quantity of materials that are essential for us due to the critical situation in Fallujah. But so far they haven't even answered our request," Dr Al-Iyssaue said. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MoH) said that every month a certain amount of medicines and other hospital supplies was sent to them and that some were distributed among Fallujah's hospitals. He added that although they were studying special cases, there was a critical situation throughout Iraq, not just in Fallujah. Dr Al-Iyssaue also complained that the hospital's sanitation system was blocked. Despite repeated requests to the Fallujah authorities over the past seven months for help, nothing has been done, he said. Every day, 30 volunteers with cars are helping to take waste from the hospital and dump it outside the city. According to medical sources, the main Fallujah hospital has not received any aid from NGOs for nearly two months. Earlier in the year the Red Crescent Society of Qatar visited Fallujah, promising aid to the hospital and to the city but nothing had reached them so far. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq said it was planning the delivery of aid to Fallujah but that a lack of security was delaying the process. "We believe that in a few days a good amount of essential aid is going to reach Fallujah, including materials for medical support to the hospitals there," Ahmed Al-Rawi, an ICRC spokesman, told IRIN in Baghdad. At the same time, the prolonged fighting is affecting power supplies in the city, with electricity available for only six hours a day. And this has a knock-on effect on engines used to pump water supplies. The poor financial situation of most people in Fallujah means they cannot afford generators. Approximately 90 percent of the telephone lines are not working and communication is poor, hospital director Dr Al-Iyssaue noted. "We are living in a local war and sometimes you cannot even go out of your home to buy food, and we cannot keep it [cool] because power is short and the heat makes it worse," he said. Fear is also keeping people from seeking assistance when needed. "If you have a medical problem at night you are afraid to go out, because maybe the US marines may think that you are from the resistance and hit you," Mustafa Albo-Ayssa, a civilian from Fallujah, told IRIN. Fallujah has seen a number of bomb and artillery attacks in recent days led by US forces, with the latest on Monday killing at least 15, according to media reports. US Marines said intelligence showed that three associates of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were in the areas when jets unleashed a precision strike last week, but, according to medical sources and witnesses, many women and children were among the 30 dead and at least 85 injured. Reports say that six houses were completely destroyed and four others were badly damaged. In one of the attacked houses, 12 people from the same family were killed and another six sent to Baghdad due to their injuries. One child was said to be in a critical condition, with two others still in a coma, hospital sources said. "US jets dropped several bombs and tank and artillery units fired rounds into the city in retribution for militant attacks on US marine positions outside the city," Marine spokesman Lt-Col T.V. Johnson told IRIN. He added that Zarqawi associates were reported to be in the area and that no other individuals were present at the time of the strikes. But local people are still coming to terms with what has happened. "I lost my brother yesterday, along with his wife and eight of their children. Those left behind are in a critical condition," Kassem Muhammad Zeidan told IRIN in Fallujah.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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