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[casi] ICRC Field Report: "Focus on Water and Sanitation"

This June report by ICRC field staff is the
latest I could find. My apologies if you have
seen it. ICRC has done a lot of repair work on
water structures and electriciy. So I thought
you might like to see it, especially Prof. Nagy.

--Elga Sutter!OpenDocument

Iraq bulletin - 12 June 2003

12-06-2003 ICRC News
Iraq bulletin - 12 June 2003

Latest reports from ICRC staff in the field
(covering 2-6 June).


Even before the war started in Iraq, the country and
its water infrastructure and services were outdated
and decaying owing to over 11 years of embargo, which
had serious consequences for the availability of
drinking water and disposal of waste water. The direct
damage caused at the outbreak of the war to key water
and sewage plants (the Qanat station in Baghdad, the
Wafa al Qaed water plant in Basra, etc.), which was
later aggravated by deliberate acts of vandalism and
destruction, left some installations beyond immediate
repair. In addition, the disruption of the electricity
supply prevented many water and sewage installations
from functioning (and thus clean water from reaching
and being evacuated from houses), placing people at
risk from water-related diseases. Today, prolonged
power cuts mean that water stations are still
dependent on back-up generators. The latter allow
water facilities to function, but not at full capacity
and not continuously. Despite some improvements since
early May, most water and sewage structures are not
fully operational, especially given that they have to
cope with the rising temperatures of the Iraqi summer.

One of the first actions carried out by the ICRC teams
in Iraq during the war was to do repair work on water
and back-up power structures (generators). For a few
weeks, while active hostilities were still going on,
the ICRC mobilized some 70 engineers, technicians and
support staff to secure at least minimum support for
medical structures and water treatment plants in the
main urban centres (Baghdad, Basra, etc). With the aim
of saving lives and averting public health disasters,
the main and immediate objectives for the ICRC teams
were to secure the supply of drinking water and
urgently needed items (including oxygen, cooking gas
and fuel) to hospitals, to repair the damage done to
priority health structures and to supply water to
areas where the piping system was not functioning.
Such immediate measures were coordinated as much as
possible with the Iraqi authorities concerned (former
government technical departments and municipal bodies)
and the Occupying Powers and related agencies.

* With an increased team and budget (16.5 million
Swiss francs), the ICRC repaired water structures in
49 locations throughout the country, thus restoring or
improving drinking water supply and sanitation
services (sewage, for example) for some 3.5 million
people. In addition, emergency repair work was carried
out in 62 health infrastructures, especially in the
main urban centres and health care centres in rural
districts: some 14,000 patients were concerned by this

* In parallel, the ICRC facilitated dialogue between
the Occupying Powers (mainly the units in charge of
utility rehabilitation) and the former Iraqi civil
authorities (water boards in various cities, Ministry
of Health, etc.) in order to identify the immediate
requirements for restoring basic public services in
the country.

Today, as a result of power related problems, a
growing number of urban centres are frequently without
a supply of tap water or any other drinking water,
sometimes for several days at a time. In rural areas,
most water structures only work a few hours a day,
often by pumping raw water directly from the river to
the distribution networks, as chlorine for
disinfecting water is becoming scarce (only 10 days'
stock of chlorine is available in the governorates of
Diyala, Qadissiya, Najaf and Karbala, for example).
Fifteen rented tankers and three ICRC tankers are
delivering water on a daily basis to some 15 sites in
Baghdad where all other means of accessing clean water
are cut off. Spare parts, equipment and chemicals
(formerly imported under the oil-for-food programme)
must be allowed into the country again if a public
health crisis is to be avoided.

Summary of what the ICRC's water and sanitation teams
did in Iraq (April-May 2003):

* conducted emergency repair work in hospitals (two in
  northern Iraq, two in Baghdad);
* installed water storage bladders in hospitals (26 in
  Baghdad, 16 in Basra);
* repaired water treatment plants, and pumping and
  sewage stations;
* distributed bags of clean water to hospitals;
* maintained generators and water facilities in

* installed water distribution stations in poorly
  served areas;
* delivered water by truck to poorly served areas;
* delivered oxygen and gas bottles to hospitals;
* organized water/sanitation connections and
  distributed water to camps for displaced people.


General situation/security

A curfew from 11 pm to 6 am called by the coalition
forces is still in place in Baghdad, although the ICRC
maintains stricter rules (8 pm to 6 am).

Tension remains high in certain areas, particularly in
Tikrit, Ramadi and Falluja. The use of small arms and
hand grenades against the coalition forces or at
checkpoints has been reported. To the best of the
ICRC's knowledge, no specific threat has ever been
formulated against international or non-governmental
organizations. On the other hand, some organizations
have been exposed to banditry on certain land routes.

Detention/people deprived of their freedom

The ICRC visited detention sites in and around
Baghdad, where delegates saw some 1,000 detainees.
These visits are continuing.

Restoring contact between family members/Red Cross

The ICRC and the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS)
organized a seminar attended by 13 (out of 18) IRCS
branches to reiterate the roles of the two
organizations regarding re-establishing family links,
tracing missing persons and distributing Red Cross

Medical situation

The ICRC medical teams continued their visits to
hospitals and medical structures, with the aim of
providing them with emergency ad hoc supplies and
obtaining a clear and global picture of the hospitals'
coping capacities, their needs and how they were
affected by the conflict. Some hospitals are starting
to provide numbers of the cases they treated during
the war (number of persons admitted, number of deaths,
etc.). Salaries and/or incentives (20 US dollars) have
been paid to most medical staff (except in some

Many medical structures are receiving supplies from
the pharmaceutical company Kidamia (in Babel, Karbala
and Najaf, for example), although the Iraqi company
does not always cover all their needs. Some hospitals
report that they are running out of food stocks or are
unable to provide their patients with a varied diet.
In addition, the usual problems prevail: lack of
water, power, fuel, oxygen, cooking gas and, in
several hospitals, problems of general hygiene.

Several hospitals report incoming patients who have
been wounded by unexploded ordnance, cluster bombs or

The ICRC has also delivered drugs and medical supplies
(and medical literature for some) to the following
medical facilities:

* in Baghdad: Ibn al Khateeb hospital, al Alawiya
pediatric hospital, al Zaafaraniya general hospital,
al Kadhmiya;

* in the central regions of Iraq: Baquba general
hospital (Diyala governorate), al Murjan, Babel and al
Hilla hospitals (all in Babel governorate); al Suweira
and al Azizeh hospitals (both in al Wasit

Meanwhile, mobile ICRC workshops are carrying out
maintenance work on generators in hospitals, fixing
broken windows, lighting, sewage and cooling systems,
and installing and repairing air conditioning systems.


Detention/people deprived of their freedom

Eight Iraqi prisoners who had been detained in Kuwait
were released and returned to Iraq. Families of those
living in Basra had been informed and the reunion was
very emotional, especially for two of the prisoners,
who were seeing their families for the first time in
12 years.

Meanwhile, an ICRC team distributed Red Cross messages
and collected replies from prisoners held at Umm Qasr.

Restoring family links/Red Cross messages

An ICRC team spent five days in Samawa to provide
residents with the means to contact their relatives
abroad, using satellite phones or Red Cross messages.
In cooperation with the local IRCS branch, some 2,000
phone calls were made to 34 different destinations,
the United States being the most popular.

The mortal remains of a number of Iraqis who had been
wounded and sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and
had subsequently succumbed to their injuries, were
brought back to Basra international airport. The ICRC
had previously informed the families of the deceased
and organized their entry at the airport.

Representatives from the Red Crescent Society for the
United Arab Emirates returned the bodies to the

Economic security/hospitals

Distributions: * boy's orphanage: 25 food parcels/25

* displaced people at Shalamsh border: 4 food parcels,
  4 kitchen sets, 4 hygiene kits, 4 tents, 320 kg of
  wheat flour, 4 stoves, 20 blankets and 8 jerrycans
* home for elderly people: 1,440 kg of wheat flour, 36
  food parcels, 7 hygiene kits, 8 kitchen sets
* al Zubayr hospital: 10 tonnes of wheat flour
* ex-military hospital, Basra: 10 tonnes of wheat
* port hospital, Basra: 2 tonnes of wheat flour
* leprosy patients, Amara: 4 food parcels, 4 hygiene
  kits, 2 kitchen sets
* Amara hospital and Amara al Zahrawi surgical
  hospital: drugs and medical supplies

Explosive remnants of war (ERWs)

An ICRC team provided training to 25 IRCS volunteers
in Amara on presentation techniques (to children and
adults) on the dangers of explosive remnants of war,
and to six of them on victim data collection.

With this session, 123 volunteers from the four
southern governorates now have the skills to make
basic presentations on the subject, to collect data
and to report their findings.

Four reports on new ERW danger areas were handed over
to UN-AMACT (Area Mine Action Coordination Team),
making a total of 27 such reports handed over in May.


General situation/security

The situation has been relatively calm in Kirkuk city
for the past week, although the Kirkuk-Mosul and
Kirkuk-Tikrit roads are still not safe. The situation
in Mosul is also calm during the day, although
looting, thefts and other such incidents still take
place at night.

Restoring contact between family members/Red Cross

Cooperation between the ICRC and the IRCS in Mosul and
Kirkuk is continuing on the distribution and
collection of Red Cross messages. The ICRC also
visited Muqabel camp for the internally displaced and
distributed Red Cross messages addressed to some of
the camp's inmates.

[89] Copyright ) 2003International Committee of the
Red Cross 12-06-2003

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