IRCS delivered aid to Fallujah

After more than two weeks of conflict inside Fallujah, 60km from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS) delivered aid to the heart of the city on Thursday.

Thousands of families are said to be in a critical humanitarian situation after the Iraqi government and US forces prohibited NGOs from delivering supplies, due to safety concerns.

A convoy carrying thousands of food parcels, blankets, tents and medical supplies arrived in Fallujah with the help of the US-led forces who gave authorisation to the IRCS to deliver and allowed for one of the clinics to be converted into a temporary hospital for treating the injured.

"Bodies can be seen everywhere and people were crying when receiving the food parcels. It is very sad, it is a human disaster," Muhammad al-Nuri, a spokesman for the IRCS, told IRIN in Baghdad.

Al-Nuri added that according to their information, they believe there could be more than 6,000 dead in Fallujah and that it is difficult to move around inside the city due to dead bodies in the streets.

He also said that many injured people had been taken to hospitals in the areas around Fallujah and that simple injuries were being treated at the mobile hospital in ambulances. However, he added that most injuries were serious and needed urgent specialised treatment.

IRCS is the only aid agency that has entered the city since the conflict started and officials say they have been receiving supplies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Turkey and Kuwait Red Crescent societies.

The IRCS spokesman said they were still in need of urgent supplies, especially now they can offer assistance to the people of Fallujah.

Blankets and tents were needed along with cooking stoves, heaters and food parcels. Al-Nuri said that most of their supplies had been distributed to the people that fled Fallujah and were staying outside the town.

On Friday morning another convoy left Baghdad, with the head of the IRCS leading the delivery. "There are no houses left in Fallujah, only destroyed places. I really don't know how the people will return to the city. No one will find their homes," Dr Said Ismael Haki, the IRCS president told IRIN, following the delivery.

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman in Baghdad, Ahmed Rawi, told IRIN that as soon as the IRCS delivered aid to the city, it opened the doors for other organisations to help those in need in the city and that they would leave Baghdad with another convoy on Friday carrying food parcels, heaters and medical supplies.

The IRCS also raised concerns for some 50,000 families camped around Fallujah in tents with the onslaught of winter. "We won the first step in entering Fallujah. We will now work day and night to offer the people from the city food and shelter, but we need help from other organisations too. They should be allowed to enter the city," al-Nuri added.