Medical needs massive in Fallujah - Red Crescent

Twenty doctors along with dozen of Iraqis were killed by a US air strike on a government clinic on Tuesday in the centre of Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad according to Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who survived the strike.

"In the early morning the US attacked the clinic, a place that we were using for treating the injured people in the city. A girl and ten-year-old boy, I really don't know if they want to tackle the insurgents or the innocent civilians from the city," al-Jumaili told IRIN.

According to the health worker, the building was one of three community clinics that had been receiving civilians wounded since the assault on the city by US and Iraqi troops to destroy insurgents began on Monday. He said that the clinic was already running out from medicines and the only ambulance that was left in the city had also been hit by US fire.

People in the town say that hundred of houses have also been destroyed and other says that they are running out water and food, adding that shops and markets have been closed and there is no place to source food. Civilians are fearful that if they go out they could be targeted by US troops, now controlling much of the north and centre of the city.

Water and electricity had also been cut off since Sunday, and doctors say that together with the chronic lack of supplies, there is not a single surgeon in the city. Without electricity medical staff cannot keep blood refrigerated.
Communication has also difficult, with telephones working only sporadically.

An indefinite curfew has been imposed and all exits of the city have been blocked by the assault forces. Ayad Hazra, a doctor attending the injured at a mosque, said that medical donations from Bahrain were in an inaccessible clinic and that the mosque had not been equipped to deal with civilians injured.
"A ten years old boy died in my hands because I couldn't get what he needed from the other clinic, people injured are dying in their homes because assistance cannot reach to them," Hazra said, while appealing for supplies and resources from foreign aid organisations.

The spokesman for the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS), Firdoos al-Abadi, told IRIN that on Wednesday they were trying to get authorisation from Coalition forces to get into Fallujah to evacuate the injured, especially the elderly, children and women. She added that three trunks have been prepared with food and medical supplies to be taken to the city and to the areas surrounding it, where most of people who have fled Fallujah are staying.

According to al-Abadi they have received aid from the Saudi and Emirates Red Crescent Society, the UN Children's Agency UNICEF, and the Italian Red Crescent , but that there is no possibility of delivering this material to the city while street battles continued to rage. The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) claimed the same difficulties.

Al-Abadi added that seven special groups have been sent to the area to assess the needs of civilians and that by late Wednesday, supplies would reach areas around the city.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health said they were seeking government authorisation to send nurses and doctors to the city, but that access remained very difficult.

"We have supplies and people who want to help. People are dying due to the shortage of medical materials and other needing food and water, but you have to watch them die because US troops do not let you go in," al-Abadi added.

Meanwhile, many refugees from Fallujah are living in cramped conditions and suffering from disease, said the Iraqi government. "The Red Crescent has set up an emergency committee and has contacted multinational [US-led] forces about the possibility of evacuating those trapped in Fallujah but has received no answer yet," public affairs chief Ferdus al-Ibadi told reporters in Baghdad on Wednesday.

The organisation said it was ready to manage the main hospital on the city's western side, seized by Iraqi and US forces on Monday. More than two-thirds of Fallujah's estimated population of 300,000 fled the city before the start of the fighting, with many camped in the tourist village and airport in Habaniyah to the west or staying with fellow Sunni families in Baghdad.