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Fallujah (I): Visit to General Hospital

 

 

The Delegation of CEOSI meets with the Director and delivers a first pack of health assistance equipment

 

 

CEOSI Delegation in Iraq, 25th April, 2005
IraqSolidaridad (www.nodo50.org/iraq), 5th May, 2005
Translated into English by Lola Oliván (CEOSI)

 

"Since last November when a journalist of the British BBC visited the Hospital, no other media has showed interest for the situation in the medical centre or has been able to come inside"

 

Last Sunday, 24th April, while visiting Fallujah [1], the CEOSI Delegation in Iraq (17th-26th April) delivered directly to the General Hospital of Fallujah a first part of the medical supplies (medicines, wheelchairs, fonends, and other medical supplies) amounting 3.817,61 dollars. These supplies had been applied by the direction of the Hospital according to the necessities. Such delivery was bought with the founds collected in the first phase of the Campaign of Health Assistance to the people of Fallujah, which was closed last 9th April after collecting a total amount of 15.000 euros [2].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The authorities of the Hospital gave to the Delegation a new list of urgent (between then the supplies for an operating room) that will be bought with the rest amount and what will be collected in the second phase now open.

In this second phase of the Campaign and after the meeting celebrated by the Delegation with the Relieve Popular Committees in the city, it has been accorded that the fungible medical material and the medicines that will be collected in Hospitals and health centres in Spain will be destined to the clinics that provide the first medical assistance to the injured and ills when they can not be immediately transferred to the General Hospital or to the public health centres due to security matters or curfews.

 

Interview with the Director of Fallujah General Hospital

CEOSI Delegation was received around 12 o'clock by the Director of the Hospital, Dr. Abdul Wahad al-Alossy, who described to the group the US assault against the medical centre at the beginning of the occupation of the city last November, 2004. he also explained the situation of the Hospital, thanked the delivery of material and called for all the assistance that can be sent from Spain to continue.

The General Hospital of Fallujah is situated in the opposite bank of Eufrates River to the city. The iron bridge that communicates the Hospital with Fallujah has been reopen just two weeks ago by the US but the occupiers do not allow yet the traffic by car over it. The Hospital must attend the 350.000 inhabitants of Fallujah and 300.000 more from the surrounding area.

Over the entry door to the Hospital -just one floor and several wings- it can be appreciated the draw of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with the Iraqi and Palestine flags and under them the phrase: "Long life Palestine, long live Iraq". On the left of the bridge, in front of the Hospital, one can see the ruins of the city Youth Centre, a big building of two floors reduced to rubble by the US bombings.

 

November's assault

Dr. al-Alossy narrated to the Delegation how the US forces started the assault to Fallujah taking military the Hospital before they penetrated into the city [3], "[...] and when I use the term military I refer to the fact that the soldiers assaulted the Hospital destroying doors and windows with violence. After that, they pointing the guns to the medical personal and they kept us with our hands tied up during the whole night in a hall. The US soldiers stole the belongings to the personal in the Hospital as well as medical supplies. [] They also destroyed some points of the medical installations".

The marine impeded the exit and entry to the Hospital during the days in which Fallujah was being reoccupied. The US soldiers opened fire against ambulances (in one of those attacks the former Director, Dr. Rafa'a would be wounded) and the convoys of health assistance coming from the capital were kept by the occupiers, as the pharmacist Intisar (from al-Yarmuk Hospital accompanying the Delegation) remembers.

The rehabilitation of the destroyed halls in the Hospital took three months. It has still some deficiencies in medicines and equipments. This is confirmed by the death of a young asthmatic of 22 due to shortage in oxygen while the Delegation was visiting the Hospital. The situation of siege that Fallujah suffers and the very restricted access to the city makes also difficult the relationship with the health authorities in Ramadi (the provincial capital, now also witnessing heavy combats) and Baghdad.

 

Dr. al-Allosy confirmed as well as that three of the five health Centers in the city were totally destroyed during the capture of the city; also the Jordanian campaign Hospital and the beneficial center of Nasah neighborhood. Other centers of first attention, as the one of al-Yumhuriya, are partially destroyed in between 60%-70%. The official forecast for the rehabilitation of the city infrastructure will be delay at least in two or three years.

 

An unknown amount of deaths

The fact that the Hospital was occupied and isolated from the city during the assault to

 Fallujah does not allow Dr. al-Alossy to determine, as it has been said, whether non conventional weapons were used or not against Fallujah, to be more specific, napalm and phosphorus, an issue on which the Delegation asked:

"We did not receive injured people. There was no evacuation neither attention to the injured while the combats; the most grave were dying, [] There were corpses in the streets during a month and a half after the reoccupation [of the city]."

That's why there is neither an estimation of deaths during the assault which maximum amount could be of 3.000 -80% of the combatants, as it was later confirmed by a member of the Human Rights and Democracy Studies Center to the Delegation. "The Americans sent us a CD with pictures of 400 corpses with an assigned number each one. Only about 20 were able to be identified", confirms the Director. The pictures show in the majority of the cases carbonized or deformed bodies [4]. "The Americans buried an undetermined number of corpses in a common grave in Sahlawi neighbourhood; some others were [initially] stored in a potatoes store's chamber becoming a morgue", Dr. al-Allosy points out. "Many other deaths were buried by their families in the gardens of their own houses".

Finally, a deal between the judiciary authorities and the Muslim Experts Association allowed to extend death certificates but without assigning cause of the dead, Dr. al-Alossy adds.

 

Curfew and epidemics prevision

 

The General Hospital receives currently the visits of the US troops on regular bases

 

 although they are not so aggressive as during the assault last November. The Hospital does not register -as his Director affirms discretely- injured combatants despite of the fact that the clashes with the marine patrolling the city take place on a daily basis. What the Hospital register are the civilians wounded by the shooting of the US soldiers in the check pints or during the curfew. Also frequent are the admission of civilians injured by the detonation of no-exploded bombs, as it is the case of two minor brothers in the Centre when CEOSI Delegation visits the Hospital.

The existing curfew in the city from 9.00 p.m. (until few weeks ago from 5.00 pm) to day-break, makes difficult the health assistance for a population that can not move from one place to the General Hospital or to the public centres yet available, or to the popular health committees that have been established by the citizens with private or foreign contributions. In case of childbirths or urgencies, the director states, the relatives have to call by phone to the Hospital so an ambulance necessarily escorted by a US military vehicle can go to the house and visit or taking the patient. The problem, according to Dr. Al_ayossy, is that at least 60% of the telephone lines in the city are not operative.

 

 

Particularly grave is the health situation of the refugees that are returning to the city to live literally over the ruins of their destroyed houses in tends given by United Nations.

Dr. al-Alossy is particularly afraid of the expansion of infectious diseases in summer as consequence of the lack of potable water and the destruction of the depuration system of sewage. Big plastic water tanks in grey or red not well tested in salubriousness providing water for the population can be seen in many places of the devastated city.

Since last November when a journalist of the British BBC visited the Hospital, no other media has showed interest for the situation in the medical centre or has been able to come inside.

 

 

Notes:

1. The chronic of the Delegation's enter to Fallujah will be publisher next 10th May in IraqSolidaridad.
2. See in IraqSolidaridad:
Cierre de la primera fase de la campaña de ayuda sanitaria a la población de Faluya: 15.000 euros recaudados se destinarán al Hospital Central, devastado en noviembre
3. See in IraqSolidaridad the Report of CEDHD on Fallujah:
Las organizaciones de Faluya remiten sendos informes sobre la violación de derechos humanos durante el asalto y ocupación de Faluya y la situación de los refugiados de esta ciudad
4. CEOSI has a copy of this CD as well as of the lists related to the pictures of the corpses and provided by the US occupation authorities.

 
http://www.nodo50.org/iraq/2004-2005/docs/ceosi-iraq_faluya_5-05-05.html