Iraq: "Let the world know what is happening"

While possibilities to access victims of war and violence are limited in many parts of the country due to the high level of insecurity, 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, this year MSF teams started working in hospitals in the relatively safe northern provinces of Iraq, were a number of patients from the conflict-zones are treated. Here are the testimonies of three of them:
 

Kamal is a young man of 22. He is lying on a bed in the Intensive Care Ward after having undergone surgery on his left leg. His arms and his face are heavily burnt and he is covering the scars with a towel while he speaks: “I am from Baghdad. My job is to work as a guard for a security company. About two weeks ago, we were travelling from the north towards Baghdad in a convoy to deliver goods. I was sitting in the first car, a pick-up-truck. Suddenly there was an explosion. I went unconscious. When I woke up for some seconds I saw the driver of my car lying next to me – he was dead. The other two men in the car were also wounded. They brought us to this hospital. I have several fractures in my left leg and these burns on my face, my arms and my side. In total 22 percent of my body-surface was burnt. I had surgery on my leg. All in all, I am happy I am still alive. When I get out of the hospital I will continue to work as a guard. Life has to go on!”

“Don’t lie to me, Uncle, I saw him lying there. I know he is dead.” He saw everything happen before his eyes. His little brother’s body was full of bullets. They shot him with the machine gun.

In the same ward, an elderly man is sitting next to a bed of a young boy: “Yousif is my niece’s son. He is 12 years old. Two weeks ago, while they were having a family gathering in Baghdad, terrorists attacked their house. They killed Yousif’s father and his eight year old brother, and also his aunt , who was pregnant and another uncle. The house is completely destroyed, everything they had is gone. Yousif got shot in his leg. He suffered multiple fractures. First we brought him to a hospital in Baghdad, but even there we did not feel safe. So we came here in a private car. He had to undergo surgery. He will get well and can continue his life, his studies but we will never go back to Baghdad. Yousif’s father was a brilliant man, he was an engineer. I told the boy that his father was still alive, but he answered: “Don’t lie to me, Uncle, I saw him lying there. I know he is dead.” He saw everything happen before his eyes. His little brother’s body was full of bullets. They shot him with the machine gun. Yousif’s mother is in Kirkuk now, since the attack she has been having mental problems. She had suffered from rheumatism for a long time and now she cannot move at all. For the moment she does not get any medical care or counselling. Maybe we can bring her here next week. We are very thankful to this hospital and to the doctors who are helping us. The care here is very good. Please, let the word know what is happening to us! “

Said, 30, is another patient of the ward: “I am from a small town near Mosul. Five days ago I was walking with my cousin in the streets. Suddenly there was heavy machine gun fire in our direction. I was hit by several bullets on my right side. I was in a lot of pain. My cousin, who was not hit, brought me to this hospital, where I underwent surgery. The doctors promised that in some days I could go home. In my town I own a gas station, but now I don’t want to continue working there. When you are in the street you never know, when a bomb or a car might explode next to you. We always knew that one day or another something like this could happen to us. We have always expected it. I have a wife and eight children. I tell them to stay at home and not come and see me. It is too dangerous to be on the roads. I am in a constant worry about my family. But what can we do, this is our life.”

All names of patients have been changed


Determined to do all it can to provide medical care to the Iraqi people since 2006 MSF has implemented different programs: Twelve hospitals in central and northern Iraq receive supplies, including drugs and medical equipment. In eight hospitals in central and northern Iraq MSF is providing training for medical staff and psychological counsellors. The direct intervention of surgical teams has been set up in three hospitals of northern Iraq. In Jordan a surgical program provides maxillo-facial and reconstructive surgery for war-wounded Iraqis. Also from Jordan MSF supplies numerous hospitals in Iraq with medical drugs and material and has set up a training-program for Iraqi medical staff.