As the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Mosul, Iraq, intensifies, EMERGENCY has mobilized in cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan’s Health Department, to upgrade EMERGENCY’S Hospital in Erbil. The Hospital was constructed in 1998 and was managed by EMERGENCY for war and anti-personnel mine victims until 2005, at which point it was turned over to local health authorities. EMERGENCY will return to the Hospital to guarantee medical assistance to victims of the conflict.
Months of fighting –– an Iraqi army offensive attempting to force Daesh (ISIS) out of Mosul–– have completely exhausted the population, who are caught on the front lines of combat. Civilian residential areas are being attacked indiscriminately, and fleeing residents are being used as human shields. According to the Health Ministry, about 3,125 people have been wounded in the fighting since the beginning of December 2016.
“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.
Other hospitals near residential areas are inaccessible and non-functioning. Conditions are fatal — many patients are dying due to a lack of immediate medical attention as well as the long transfer time to get them to adequate facilities. At the moment, despite national health authorities working to enable prompt medical care, the wounded are arriving at inefficient triage areas called “Trauma Stabilization Points”, located in the most desperate pockets of the region. In these places, patients seeking assistance are being directed to insufficient secondary health care facilities based in Erbil.
In the past few months, the number of patients arriving at the EMERGENCY Hospital has been rapidly increasing. EMERGENCY’s decision to go back to Erbil will support these victims and supplement the national health care system by offering medical treatment 24 hours a day.
“We are returning to work in Erbil for the first time since 2005, when our surgical center, 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.”
EMERGENCY is working on upgrading the hospital and focusing on increasing capacity with the goal of multiplying the number of beds from 24 to 68s. The organization will pay particular attention to training local 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 center 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.