Iraq

EMERGENCY in Erbil to guarantee medical assistance to people wounded in Mosul

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As the conflict in Mosul, Iraq, intensifies and the humanitarian crisis worsens, EMERGENCY has started working since January 15 on the Emergency Hospital, in cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan's Health department. The hospital is a surgical centre in Erbil, in the north of the country. The facility guarantees medical assistance to victims of the conflict.

Months and months of fighting -- an Iraqi army offensive trying to force Daesh (ISIS) out of Mosul -- have completely exhausted the population, caught between the front lines. Civilian residential areas are being attacked indiscriminately, and the fleeing residents are being used as human shields. From the start of December, 2016, about 3125 people have been wounded in the fighting, according to the Health Ministry.

"We have decided to intervene, to respond to the growing need for war surgery. Mosul's population is already living through a bloody war. People who need medical treatment are having trouble getting to hospitals. In their place, local health facilities, doctors, and nurses are trying to keep pace with the flow of wounded, which keeps growing. We want to be sure that civilians caught in the conflict have access to free and quality treatment," explains Emanuele Nannini, Deputy Coordinator of the EMERGENCY Humanitarian Office.

Hospitals near residential areas are inaccessible and non-functioning. Many patients are dying because of lack of immediate medical care, as well as the long transfer time to get them to adequate facilities.

Despite national health authorities working to enable prompt medical care, at the moment the wounded are arriving at what are called Trauma Stabilisation Points, near the front lines. In these places, patients receive rapid assistance directing them to secondary health care facilities based in Erbil, which are themselves insufficient.

In the past few months, the number of patients arriving at the Emergency Hospital is constantly increasing. EMERGENCY has decided to go back to Erbil to support the national health care system, in order to offer medical treatment 24 hours a day to the wounded population.

In the past few months, the number of patients arriving at the Emergency Hospital is constantly increasing. EMERGENCY has decided to go back to Erbil to support the national health care system, in order to offer medical treatment 24 hours a day to the wounded population. This means returning to the hospital that was constructed in 1998 for war and anti-personnel mine victims, and which was managed until 2005. That is when the local health authorities took over running the centre.

"We are returning to work in Erbil for the first time since 2005, when our surgical centre, open since 1998, was then handed over to local authorities, because Kurdistan seemed to be a stable and safe country," says Nannini. "Today, we are there again, to face the terrible consequences of one of the biggest and most complex recent humanitarian crises: the Mosul conflict."

As with all its projects, EMERGENCY is working on upgrading the hospital, and increasing the number of beds, which will go from 24 to 68. The organisation will pay particular attention to training medical personnel in war surgery. The international staff will carry out this training, to align hospital procedures with international standards.

Since 1995, EMERGENCY has helped over 780,000 people in Iraq. Currently, EMERGENCY is running a centre for rehabilitation and social reintegration in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. Also, since 2014, EMERGENCY has been offering health care assistance to Iraqi and Syrian asylum-seekers in camps around the areas of Arbat and Kalar.