Iraqi Hospitals Attacked by US Forces

July 2nd, 2005 - by admin

Dahr Jamail / Iraq Dispatches – 2005-07-02 23:19:10

Iraqi Hospitals Attacked by US Forces
Dahr Jamail
(June 26, 2005) — An urgent humanitarian crisis is unfolding in occupied west Iraq. The Doctors for Iraq Society is calling on you to act NOW.

US occupation soldiers have conducted simultaneous military operations in cities across the west of Iraq. Between May- June 2005, the heaviest of these attacks took place in the cities of Haditha and Al-Qa‚im. These cities and surrounding villages are home to an estimated 300,000 people.

Eyewitness and medical personnel in the area have described how US soldiers prevented food and medication reaching Haditha and Al-Qa‚im and targeted the cities two main hospitals, medical staff and ambulances.

US soldiers violated the Geneva Convention and international law by preventing civilians from accessing healthcare. Eyewitnesses reported at least one patient being shot dead in his bed on a hospital ward. Doctors were prevented from assisting patients and civilians in need.

A number of doctors and medical personnel were killed in the attack and others were arrested by US forces in the hospital. They were later released, along with the hospital manager who was detained for two days.

The huge military operations in the area have caused widespread damage and an unknown number of civilians were killed and injured during the attack.

Video footage shot by doctors shows a badly damage medical store in the Haditha hospital and damaged surgical theatres. The medical store contained medicine and equipment for all hospitals and medical centers in the west of Iraq. Staff and patients say the damage was carried out by “by violent and barbaric US soldiers.”

The Doctors for Iraq Society and other Iraqi organizations working in the area are asking for urgent assistance from outside Iraq to help equip the hospital with medication and other essential supplies.

Medical staff need basis such as medicines, surgical sets, laundry unit, laboratory equipment and surgical sets.

Staff and patients also need urgent protection from the ongoing brutal actions of US occupation forces who continue to violate international law by carrying out attacks on patients and medical staff in Iraq.

The Doctors for Iraq Society is calling on human rights organizations to conduct an urgent investigation into what happened in Haditha and Al-Qa‚im, and to take testimonies from eyewitnesses and medical staff in the area.

For more information contact about the attack and the specific of the hospital contact Doctors for Iraq Society at :

Or: Dr. Salam Ismael at :
media enquiries contact:

Dr. Salam T. Ismael General secretary Doctors for Iraq Society
UK Phone : 0044 (0) 2085209489
UK Mobile : 0044 (0) 7891022381
Baghdad phone No. : 00964 1 4437512
Baghdad Mobile : 00964 7901 963 257

Iraqi Hospitals Ailng Under Occupation
Dahr Jamail / Iraq Dispatches

Although the Iraq Ministry of Health claims its independence and has received promises of over $1 billion of US funding,
hospitals in Iraq continue to face ongoing medicine, equipment, and staffing shortages under the US-led occupation.

During the 1990s, medical supplies and equipment were constantly in short supply because of the sanctions against Iraq. And
while war and occupation have brought promises of relief, hospitals have had little chance to recover and re-supply: the
occupation, since its inception, has closely resembled a low-grade war, and the allocation of resources by occupation authorities has reflected this reality. 

Thus, throughout Baghdad there are ongoing shortages of medicine of even the most basic items such as analgesics, antibiotics, anesthetics, and insulin. Surgical items are running out, as well as basic supplies like rubber gloves, gauze, and medical tape.

In April 2004, an International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) report stated that hospitals in Iraq are overwhelmed with
new patients, short of medicine and supplies and lack both adequate electricity and water, with ongoing bloodshed stretching the hospitals’ already meager resources to the limit.[1]

Ample testimony from medical practitioners in the interim in fact confirms this crisis. A general practitioner at the prosthetics workshop at Al-Kena Hospital in Baghdad, Dr. Thamiz Aziz Abul Rahman, said, “Eleven months ago we submitted an emergency order for prosthetic materials to the Ministry of Health, and still we have nothing,” said Dr. Rahman. After a pause he added, “This is worse than even during the sanctions.”[2]

Dr. Qasim al-Nuwesri, the chief manager at Chuwader General Hospital, one of two hospitals in the sprawling slum area of Sadr
City, Baghdad, an area of nearly 2 million people, added that there, too, was a shortage of most supplies and, most critically, of ambulances.

But for his hospital, the lack of potable water was the major problem. “Of course we have typhoid, cholera, kidney stones…but we now even have the very rare Hepatitis Type-E…and it has become common in our area,” said al-Nuwesri, while adding that they never faced these problems prior to the invasion of 2003.[3]

Chuwader hospital needs at least 2000 liters of water per day to function with basic sterilization practices. According to Dr. al-Nuwesri, they received 15% of this amount. “The rest of the water is contaminated and causing problems, as are the electricity cuts,” added al-Nuwesri, “Without electricity our instruments in the operating room cannot work and we have no
pumps to bring us water.”[4] 

In November, shortly after razing Nazzal Emergency Hospital to the ground, [5] US forces entered Fallujah General Hospital,
the city’s only healthcare facility for trauma victims, detaining employees and patients alike.[6] According to medics on the
scene, water and electricity were “cut off,” ambulances confiscated, and surgeons, without exception, kept out of the besieged

Many doctors in Iraq believe that, more widely, the lack of assistance, if not outright hostility, by the US military, coupled with
the lack of rebuilding and reconstruction by foreign contractors has compounded the problems they are facing.

According to Agence France-Presse, the former ambassador of Iraq Paul Bremer admitted that the US led coalition spending on the Iraqi Health system was inadequate. “It’s not nearly enough to cover the needs in the healthcare field,” said Bremer when
referring to the amount of money the coalition was spending for the healthcare system in occupied Iraq.[8]

When asked if his hospital had received assistance from the US military or reconstruction contractors, Dr. Sarmad Raheem, the administrator of chief doctors at Al-Kerkh Hospital in Baghdad said, “Never ever. Some soldiers came here five months ago and asked what we needed. We told them and they never brought us one single needle… We heard that some people from the CPA came here, but they never did anything for us.” [9]

At Fallujah General Hospital, Dr. Mohammed [10]said there has been virtually no assistance from foreign contractors, and of the US military he commented, “They send only bombs, not medicine.”[11]

International aid has been in short supply due primarily to the horrendous security situation in Iraq After the UN headquarters was bombed in Baghdad in August 2003, killing 20 people, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations either reduced their staffing or pulled out entirely.

Dr. Amer Al Khuzaie, the Deputy Minister of Health of Iraq, blamed the medicine and equipment shortages on the US-led
Coalition’s failure to provide funds requested by the Ministry of Health.[12]

“We have requested over $500 million for equipment and only have $300 million of this amount promised,” he said, “Yet we still
only have promises.”[13]

According to The New York Times, “of the $18.4 billion Congress approved last fall, only about $600 million has actually been paid out. Billions more have been designated for giant projects still in the planning stage. Part of the blame rests with the Pentagon’s planning failures and the occupation authority’s reluctance to consult qualified Iraqis. Instead, the administration
brought in American defense contractors who had little clue about what was most urgently needed or how to handle the
unfamiliar and highly insecure climate.”[14]

The World Health Organization (WHO) last year warned of a health emergency in Baghdad, as well as throughout Iraq if current conditions persist. But despite claims from the Ministry of Health of more drugs, better equipment, and generalized
improvement, doctors on the ground still see “no such improvement.”[15]

For the complete report and footnotes, go to:

Mr. Bush, Thanks for the Spoiled Food
Dr.Salam T. Ismael / Doctors for Iraq Society

BAGHDAD (June 14, 2005) — Today I am telling you about the new health system inside Iraq, which is actually a disaster and a crime against the health of the Iraqi people. A crime committed every day now in the name of freedom, free markets and the globalization of the new Iraq. A crime killing, slowly and effectively, the lives of so many Iraqi people. This is affecting men, woman, the elderly and children both now and in the future.

I quote from a speech of Mr. Bush when he said, “I went to Iraq to bring medicine, food and freedom.” Today I will tell you what type of food Mr. Bush was talking about.

When I was on my way from Jordan to Baghdad, our car was reaching the Iraqi border when I started to see a very long chain of trucks carrying boxes. They filled the side of the road and I kept smiling when I saw the scene. I was making jokes that all the trucks in Iraq are now waiting on this border point, and also I was really wondering, “What about the commercial benefit that made all those truck drivers wait in a queue for 2 weeks, in the desert until they get a chance to cross the border.”

When I reached the Iraqi checkpoint on the border, only by coincidence of my entering the health clinic in Trabeel, (the Iraqi Border point), did I find that the responsible doctor there was one of my dearest colleagues from medical school. After our greetings, I felt that he was desperate to speak and he took me to his office.

He was slightly irritable and smoking heavily while trying his best to relax before telling me anything. When he spoke he told me about this crime…he said, “First Salam, do you know what is going on here on the Iraqi border? Here there is a crime and a dangerous thing happening everyday. First of all I will tell you how things started.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health withdrew the food examination lab, (this lab was responsible of examining all the food and related materials that entered the Iraqi Borders through Jordan), from the borders to Baghdad, giving an excuse that there are not enough staff and they requested from the doctors in the border health center to take the responsibility of examining the food physically, by smelling and looking! First of all, it is not our job to examine the food and the other thing is, how we can depend only on the smell and eyes in examination of food that millions of our people are consuming?”

He continued, “Do you know that most of these trucks are carrying beef, chicken, tobacco, cigarettes and many, many things? Believe me that so much of it is over the expiration dates. Sometimes I can never even open the trucks or enter inside in order to examine the food because the smell I so terrible. In addition, you can see the big colonies of fungi growing over the tobacco that we use for Shisha.”

“After all, do you know Salam that we are here under very big pressure to sign the papers of these trucks to let them enter Iraq? We are caught between the business gangs that control all this commercial business…either they are threatening us with death or they are offering us a lot of money as a bribe, in order to force us to sign these papers.

But we cannot do these things, so we refuse. But do you know that many of these trucks entering the border to Baghdad never pass through us, instead they get the signature from the responsible officials in the customs area ?”

Then he pointed to a group of papers in front of him and said that all these papers are papers of the trucks that are carrying spoiled food and they were writing over it that it is to be returned to Jordan. “I will show you evidence,” he said. “Here are documents of a truck I wrote that is carrying food not fit for human consumption.

It contained chicken meat and the date over it shows 22 March 2005. Look, the stamp over the paper when the Iraqi borders return it back to Jordan …look it was 27 March 2005.” He asked me, “What did they do in these five days and why did they not return it back to Jordan? I will tell you — for five days they were making a lot of pressure on me to sign the papers of this truck.”

I asked him what the Ministry of Health did when he told them about this. He laughed and said, “I wrote them so many letters but never received a single response from them.” I left completely astonished about what I heard from him, as well as how big the crime is. I had so many questions in my mind, “Why is that happening, who is behind this, and how is this happening?” I promised my colleague to do what I can in order to raise awareness about what is happening there.

Any one of you , who want to make a tour in the Iraqi markets he will discover part of this crime .. many many types of food materials .with no expir. Dates over it ..with different origin and names of companies , and no one checking weither it s acceptable to be used by the human beings or not …

I am asking now all of you, who is responsible for this thing?

Is this the freedom and the type of food that Mr. Bush promised us with?

Is this the future that the new government promised us?

Is this the right to quality health for the Iraqi people?

Dr.Salam T. Ismael General Sec. Doctors for Iraq Society
Mobile Iraq : 00964 7901 963 257
Landline Iraq : 00964 1 4437512
Mobile UK : 0044 (0) 7891022381