By Paul Foreman, former MSF Head of Mission in Iraq

nterview with Dr. Benoît Émond, a surgeon who recently returned from northern Iraq.

While possibilities to access victims of war and violence are limited in many parts of Iraq due to the high level of insecurity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is finding new ways to provide assistance to the Iraqi population. Apart from supplying hospitals in different parts of the country with medicines and medical materials, in 2007 MSF teams started to work in hospitals in the relatively safe northern provinces, were a number of patients from the conflict zones are treated. These are the testimonies of three of these patients.

War and conflict in Iraq have led to one of the world’s biggest current humanitarian crises. Civilians are wounded or killed every day. The Iraqi health system is no longer able to give proper care to these victims of violence. Thousands of doctors have fled the country and those who stay are often faced with harassment, arrest or the threat of kidnapping and assassination. Humanitarian actors have become targets in the conflict and, as a result, most international relief agencies have left the country. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing medical assistance to the population in different regions inside Iraq as well as operating from neighbouring countries such as Jordan. In hospitals located in the more secure north of the country, programmes have been established to deliver surgical assistance as well as psychological support to patients from the conflict zones.

On May 29 at approximately 11 a.m. a bomb targeting a military recruitment centre surrounded by civilian locations exploded in the town of Sinjar, Ninawa Governorate, in northern Iraq, causing at least 16 deaths and a high number of wounded, among them many civilians. So far 60 patients have been received in the local hospital which, as with most medical structures in Iraq, faces a dire lack of medical material and qualified staff.

Photo: Khalil Sayyad Despite the ongoing conflict that has made it difficult for humanitarian organizations to be present in Iraq, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is striving to provide medical care to the Iraqi people.

More than 100 wounded patients have been assisted in the aftermath of a large bomb blast that took place on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, northern Iraq today. Still more wounded are expected to arrive in the coming hours to the Jumury hospital in the centre of Mosul. The hospital, assisted by local volunteers from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2007, immediately asked the international medical organization for supplies of material to cover their increased needs in the emergency situation.

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