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[casi] Dr Geert Van Moorter and Dr. Claire Geraerts visiting three hospitals

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Diary from Baghdad, April 16, 19.45 o'clock

Dr. Geert Van Moorter, through satellite phone

Dr Geert Van Moorter and Dr. Claire Geraerts visiting three hospitals

Bert De Belder

"Today (Dr.) Claire (Geraerts) and me have visited three hospitals.

In the Saddam Children Hospital many simple check-ups can no longer take place because there is a 
chronic shortage of medical supplies. In the garden around the hospital ditches were dug to burry 
the dead during the heaviest bombardments and battles. Now the cadavers, in advance stages of 
decomposition, are again unearthed for identification, and to allow the families to give them a 
decent burial. Even though washing of the bodies, which is a very important ritual in the Islamic 
culture, can of course no longer take place.

Around the hospital we see a few men with Kalashnikovs to protect it against plunderers. But they 
don't dare to do anything against the US soldiers who have ransacked the hospital already twice, 
looking for fedayin under the wounded! Again another violation of the International Humanitarian 

In the Saddam Children Hospital we meet Ahmed Saleh, a 33 years old. He is working there as a 
volunteer. Officially he works with the Technological University of Baghdad, but this one is 
completely plundered. 'An American tank broke the gate of the university to allow entrance by the 
plunderers, Ahmed shares outraged. 'What I think of Saddam? Well, we are with 22 million Iraqis, 
did they really come to destroy everything to get only that one Iraqi? After all, even if you 
didn't like Saddam, everyone respected him as president.'

In the Al-Anour Hospital we see Hiba again, the 12 years girl with the ugly wound at the knee (see 
picture). She has improved a little, fortunately. She has received some blood, and even an external 
fixator. We gave her a children drawing, with which she is very happy. This is really an enormous 
success, the Belgian children drawings - an idea of my niece Liesbeth. We gave Dr.Osama Fakri a box 
full with suture materials and an external fixator. 'We can use that very well, thanks a lot', he 

We also go to the Al-Yarmouk Hospital, where Dr. Jamal welcomes us warmly. The man is happy to see 
me again - but all his medical equipment is stolen.. 'Altogether it is not too bad here', says Dr. 
Jamal. 'Because of our defense committee only one-fifth of our equipment is stolen.' A bomb hit the 
Cardiology Care Unit (CCU), the hospital was under fire from two sides. Expensive equipment is 
rendered useless: no electricity, no refrigerators. However, one of the four generators still 
works, the other three are damaged during the war. And also here, very near the hospital: mass 
graves. However there are again daily about 200 to 250 patients for consultation, and Claire even 
notices a few cars with the sign of the Red Half Moon on it: signs of a slow recovery of the 
services. But medical supplies are still very short in supply..

Al-Yarmouk is in fact a university hospital and it belongs to the Al-Mustanseriya University. 
Claire and I meet a dean of the faculty of medicine, Dr. Alim Yacob. He tells that the university 
has formed a committee in an effort to restart the lessons. They called on the students to return 
to the university, and they try to get operational budgets from the local authorities. The 
creativity and the perseverance of the Iraqi people keep amazing us.

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