The threats and dangers posed to the Iraqi population are numerous. As a result of the 1981—1988 Iraq-Iran war, Iraqi territory is laden with an invisible killer: landmines. There are more than 10 million of them spread across the country. Whilst that war has now faded, its legacy continues to indiscriminately kill and maim children and adults alike. More recently the continual raging of the Syrian civil war, and the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, has severely worsened living conditions for civilians in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, with many thousands forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. In order to provide free, high quality healthcare to those threatened and affected by these problems in Iraq, EMERGENCY has established several programmes.
In 1995 EMERGENCY restored and reactivated the hospital of Choman, a village in north eastern Iraqi Kurdistan near the Iranian border, providing equipment and medical personnel specialised in war surgery. This was followed by the opening of two surgical centres in Sulaimaniya and Erbil in 1996 and 1998. Both centres were subsequently expanded to include specialised units for the treatment of burns and spinal injuries. In Sulaimaniya, EMERGENCY also opened a Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre. In order to guarantee faster treatment and referral of patients in isolated areas, EMERGENCY established a network of 22 First Aid Posts throughout the country.
During the early months of the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003, EMERGENCY provided the Al Kindi hospital in Baghdad (the city’s main surgical centre) with over 30 tons of medical supplies, drugs, mattresses and blankets, in addition to 45,000 litres of gasoline to fuel the generators which provided the electricity needed for the operating theatres. At the same time EMERGENCY donated large quantities of medical supplies to the hospital in Karbala, a Shiite city 90km south of Baghdad, and transferred the most serious patients to the surgical centre in Sulaimaniya. Additionally, through five separate shipments beginning in May 2004, EMERGENCY provided medical supplies and other basic goods such as water, food, blankets, and mattresses to the hospital and the population of Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad that suffered a siege during the war.
In 2005, EMERGENCY entrusted the local authorities with the management and running of the two Surgical Centres and of the network of First Aid Posts, which are now integrated into the national health system. In response to the most recent crises and instability, EMERGENCY now provides free healthcare to camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Arbat and Khanaqin, and has established two health centres further south in Kalar to assist IDPs in the area.EMERGENCY places a strong emphasis on the employment and training of national staff, with an aim to achieve complete operational independence. The Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre alone has trained almost 500 local staff. Once complete operational independence is achieved, facilities are handed over to local health authorities, such as the clinic in Aliawa which was successfully transferred in February 2015. Finally, EMERGENCY’s employment policy for auxiliary staff gives priority to people with disabilities and members of disadvantaged social groups.