Iraq: Situation report No. 19

Report
from Caritas
Published on 11 Apr 2003
Northern Iraq
Update Northern Iraq 11 April 2003 by Dutch Consortium:

With many things happening very fast at the moment, The Kurdistan Observer quoted the AFP reporting on a PUK representative in Ankara saying that "About 10,000 fighters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who entered the oil-rich town of Kirkuk on Thursday will leave the city on Friday following the harsh reaction from Turkey". Meanwhile thousands of Kurdish were reported to begin rushing back to Kirkuk after its fall on Thursday, some in a bid to reclaim property and some to see relatives.

Dutch Consortium continued its activities in Northern Iraq for IDP families as follows:

Duhok Governorate

Last Wednesday Dutch Consortium had another meeting with the Chaldean Bishop Petrus of Duhok/Zakho. A joint project proposal has been worked out between the Chaldean Church Committee and Dutch Consortium and approved by the Bishop and Dutch Consortium Headoffice, in which continued joint assessments will take place and in which Dutch Consortium will assistant the Church Committee to give assistance to the IDPs.

Consequently Dutch Consortium staff, together with Bishop Petrus, visited on Thursday the area around Alqosh, some 12 km from Mosul (45 km from Duhok). Some 2000 IDP families (more than 10,000 people) are here in the sub-district of Alqosh: 100 families staying in the church of Alqosh and 1900 families staying with families. The major need of the IDP families is shortage of food. We met in Alqosh with the Chaldean Bishop of Alqosh, and together we made plans for making distributions of food to the IDP families. On Friday a more detailed assessment will take place and at the same time we will purchase food on the market (wheat, rice, oil and sugar). The food distributions are then foreseen for Saturday. The distributions will be done with volunteers of the church in Alqosh.

Attached you find a picture of Dutch Consortium staff in a meeting with the Assyrian Bishop Issac of Duhok and his church committee (on 29 March 03). Also pictures of crowded rooms in Zakho, where people from Baghdad stay with relatives (22 persons in 2 rooms).

After Sulaimaniya, Dutch Consortium now also signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Health of Duhok Governorate about our cooperation. The Department seconded a medical doctor and a medical assistant to Dutch Consortium and the very much needed health assistance work in Duhok Governorate can start now.

As the need for medical assistance in Duhok Governorate is very high, we will try to arrange for a second medical team for Duhok Governorate.

Sulaimaniya Governorate

Bazyan

The Dutch Consortium Mobile Medical Team of Sulaimaniya continues treating sick IDPs in Bazyan Health Centre. The number of patients increased to more than 60 IDP patients on Wednesday and 46 on Thursday. Most of these IDP patients are from Bazyan IDP camp, and some IDP patients stay with families in Bazyan. The most common disease we treat is Acute respiratory tract infections. Also vomiting and diarrhoea occurs a lot.

11 of the 117 IDP families in Bazyan Camp returned home.

Attached you find pictures of our distribution of non food items in Bazyan Camp and in New Halabja. (Note by International Cooperation Department: upon request, these photos are available with our Communications Department; as usual, they have been sent to the Communicator of your organization and, shortly, will also be accessible on our website).

We made distribution of kerosene to other IDP families from the borderline areas as follows:

  • 20 litre of kerosene:
  • Sola Village: 20 IDP families
  • Delezha: 6 IDP families
  • Khewata: 2 IDP families
Erbil Governorate

Also in Erbil Governorate we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Department of Health of Erbil Governorate for the work of a Dutch Consortium Mobile Health Team in Erbil Governorate. Also here the DoH seconds a medical doctor and a medical assistant to Dutch Consortium for this purpose.

Syria

Report from Syria April 9th/10th, 2003

a) Damascus

According to Msgr. Tabey, no more Iraqi refugees should arrive in Syria. But all the families currently based in Damascus areas will wait weeks before returning to their country, especially the Christian families, who are very much afraid of what will be the future Iraqi regime.

Some refugees too told us about their intentions to go back to Iraq as soon as possible. Others, on the contrary, are afraid to return and plan to stay a few weeks more in Syria.

Caritas Office:

a) Damascus

Armelle Guillembet from Secours Catholique, who will replace Jean-Yves Lescazes, arrived on April 8th. She began to work with the team on April 9th and will stay in Damascus for 3 months. Under the responsibility of Caritas Austria (liaison agency for Syria), she will coordinate the Damascus office.

Level of operation/programmes:

27 children were attending the three school classes on April 9th. On April 10th, the whole school (25 children that day) went for the first time out for a picnic outside of Hassake. One catch in their eyes and you know they won't forget this day in times of fear and worry.

90 Iraqi refugees families are registered. Visits to the families are ongoing and the distribution of aid packages continues. Next week we will start activities in cooperation with MECC. Caritas will inform refugees in Hassake and Qamishli to come at a determined time to a distribution place where they will receive food packages from MECC.

b) Damascus

On April 9th and 10th, the staff received 42 new families in difficulty. This means that 232 families are now registered. The number of people waiting every morning to meet the social assistant is still important. During the afternoon of April 9th, one of the social assistant visited 4 families.

The first decision-making committee, composed of all persons working in the office, began to examine the priority files. All cases studied correspond to families who, during the previous days, have been visited by the social assistants. After presentation of the family situation, the assistant makes proposals regarding assistance to be provided to the vulnerable families. In most cases, the committee decided to send people to the health centre so that they can be followed by a doctor and receive medical treatment. According to the agreement with the health centre Saint-Joseph, the first families should be contacted Thursday April 10th. They will be invited to come to the Caritas office where they will receive a voucher for a doctor's visit. The responsible person of the pharmacy agrees to give medicines to all having met the doctors of the centre Saint-Joseph and in need of medical treatment. The medicines will be paid by Caritas Damascus afterwards to the pharmacy: a mark-up of only 20% of the purchase price will be charged to Caritas Syria.

On April 9th, some of the families already came to take their voucher in order to visit the doctor of the centre Saint-Joseph. Seven new cases should be examined on April 11th.

We can see that the help to be provided is mainly focused on health problems, lack of medicines.

The food assistance procedure has not yet been defined. For this reason, the "Soeurs de la Charité de Besancon" who want to participate in the programme, will bring some food to them. The "Soeurs du Bon Pasteur" came to the office on April 10th to make the point about the situation of the Iraqi refugees based in their area, Barza. They explained to us that they were already helping many families in the neighbourhood and wanted to work in collaboration with us. We made a copy of the files of the families they are visiting in order to check if some of them already came to our office and will invite others to present themselves these days. The sisters are ready to participate in the food aid action for the most vulnerable families.

The social assistants met the grocer (owner of a small supermarket who agreed to work with Caritas Damascus on the base of vouchers) to write up a list of prices for different kinds of food. The social assistants will meet other grocers to check if better prices can be practised by one of them.

The Saint-Vincent community wants to help some families by lodging them in one of its buildings.

Turkey

Update No.19, 11/04/2003

General Information:

  1. Our communicator came back from Silopi. We had a meeting today with him and with Mrs. Sonia from Secours Catholique.
  2. The Turkish Red Crescent started to evacuate the camp which was in a military territory since Wednesday. Their personnel also are evacuating the camp. They are handing over the camp to the Turkish Army.
  3. They are not expecting any refugees anymore. If an influx begins, they have no preparations, plans and even a single camp.
  4. The Turkish Red Crescent is willing and planning to operate in Baghdad, Basra and Um-Qasr.
  5. The Iraqis' flour necessity is 20.000 tons per day. Neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Iran, Jordan and Syria will try to take care of this necessity.
  6. WFP is sending daily 2000 tons of flour to Northern Iraq and, in the near future plans to send 4000 tons per day from Turkey. We will try to be in contact with them to study some possibilities. They are the only ones operating from Turkey into Northern Iraq with flour shipments by truck.
  7. WFP is willing to continue this aid for a period of 2-5 years. After the war, they plan to extend distribution to Basra and the whole country, according to their capacity and the needs in the region.
  8. For this purpose, Canada and Norway donated huge quantities of wheat to Turkey. From Iskenderun port, the wheat is delivered to 2 factories at Gaziantep and Iskenderun. From there, the flour is transported by truck.
  9. The UNHCR representative, Mr. Metin =C7orabat=FDr, was very helpful to our communicator.
  10. According to UNHCR and UNICEF, it will be very difficult to believe that there will be a refugee influx across the borders.