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Wounded in no man’s land: essential health care for civilians in Fallujah, Iraq

24 June 2016

Over 60,000 people have fled the city of Fallujah in Iraq after fierce fighting. The families, who are now reaching camps in Amriyat Al Fallujah, are in need of food, water, shelter and medical attention.

After months without enough food and other essential supplies inside the city, some people arrive at the camps with serious injuries and diseases.

Michael van Koesveld of the British Red Cross said: “This situation is being made significantly worse by explosive weapons and remnants of war that cruelly affect civilians.

“Land mines outside of the city threaten people fleeing the violence of fighting in Fallujah. Families find themselves caught between the threat of bombs if they stay in the city and mines if they try to flee to safety.”

Jamal Suood, speaking at one of the camps about 30 kilometres from the city, explains how his family has been affected:

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Red Cross response

The Red Cross and our partners the Red Crescent have provided medical care for 13,817 people in a month from May to June at the camps outside Fallujah.

This includes first aid for 2,027 people, some with serious injuries. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams also provided 1,120 first aid kits to families living in the camps so that they can treat minor injuries or illnesses.

Health care for people with long-term conditions includes checking blood pressure and blood sugar for those with heart problems or diabetes.

Local doctors are working with us in the camps to provide health care for people with more serious illnesses. Patients who cannot be treated there are transferred for more specialised medical care.

Helping traumatised families

Teams of trained Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are providing psychological and social support to help people deal with what has happened to them.

In the past month, these teams have provided psychological support to 2,543 children in the camps. This includes giving children safe spaces to play and forget some of the things they have seen.

We have also given psychological and social support to adults, bringing the total number of people supported in this way to 9,132.

“Since the conflict started more than 3.4 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. We expect the number of people fleeing Fallujah, Al Anbar, and other locations affected by violence to continue to rise,” said Michael.

“Red Cross and Red Crescent teams will stay in place providing medical care, food and other essentials as this crisis grows.”

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