The Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (ECOM) will concentrate its activities in Iraq on the rehabilitation of the healthcare system. The relief measures will be organised in two regions: in Baghdad and the rural areas surrounding the capital and in Northern Iraq.
ECOM (French branch) has re-established contact with the St.Raphael Hospital in Baghdad, which is run by the Dominican Sisters. At the end of this week, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Order of Malta in Lebanon, ECOM will send a team of eight doctors, nurses and paramedics to Baghdad. Mme Anne Broquet and Comte Alain de Parcevaux will be in charge of this team, made up of 3 members of the French Association and 5 from the Lebanese Embassy of the Order of Malta. The team will bring urgently needed medicines, medical appliances and a generator to the St. Raphael Hospital. They are also bringing a mobile clinic to provide basic healthcare for the people living in the rural areas surrounding Baghdad.
ECOM (Malteser Germany) will focus its operation on health centres in the regions of the Northern Iraqi villages of Erbil, Kirkuk, Kifri and Makhmour. Some of the centres, which care for between 50 and 100 patients every day, were immediately provided with basic medicines from the first emergency health kit which had been brought to Northern Iraq. As a short term mission, ECOM will provide four health centres in Kifri, Erbil and Makhmour with medicines, medical instruments and laboratory material to improve the diagnosis and treatment facilities. On a medium-term basis, improvement of medical care for women in the Kurdish regions will be the focus. All programmes will be run in close cooperation with Turkish and Kurdish partner organisations.
The humanitarian situation
Security remains an important issue which needs to be urgently addressed in Iraq. It is not a problem of entry but rather a problem of movement. Well organised lootings and muggings are reported on the main road from Amman to Baghdad. There is a general landmine problem all over the country. The urban areas are now safe, but the situation in rural areas is rather insecure. The needs are more or less the same: security, salary, infrastructure, electricity, waste. They must be seen as the result of years of bad government. Humanitarian coordination meetings are run in Baghdad on a daily basis but the humanitarian possibilities are decreasing, from a position which had never been very strong. There is no acute emergency at the moment, but there is a strong need for rehabilitation. So far, only government buildings have been destroyed, rather than civilian facilities that would have needed reconstruction. Currently there is no food crisis as people are very economical with their food rations. ECOM understands that the Oil-for-Food-Programme will be phased out by September 2003. If no substitution is planned for, the community could then face a food crisis, with repercussions in all sectors.