IOM Iraq Provides Medical Care to Displaced Families in Hasan Sham Camp
Iraq - An IOM Iraq mobile medical team based in Erbil travelled to the sprawling Hasan Sham camp for Iraqis displaced by the fighting near Mosul every day this week, visiting a facility that has swelled to over 1,700 families (10,200 individuals) since October 17, when military operations in Mosul began.
On Wednesday (9 November), an IOM medical response team of three doctors and three nurses treated almost one hundred men, women and children in just under three hours. They performed general medical consultation and dispensed medicines from a mini-van serving as a mobile pharmacy.
Countrywide, IOM’s health teams provide over 30,000 medical consultations per month. They have carried out 56,424 consultations for Iraqis displaced from Mosul corridor since 17 October.
“These people have been through a lot and they need medical care and medication. It breaks my heart when I see them, especially the children, in poor health,” said Dr. Ismael Atiyah, a pediatrician with IOM’s Ninewa medical team.
“But I am very glad that I have the opportunity to do something about it. Every day they come in large numbers desperately seeking medical care, and we work non-stop to help them. Often we are unaware that it is getting dark and we are still working. I wish my days were longer so I could help more of them.”
Many patients spoke of escalating battlefield conditions raging inside Mosul, a city of 1.4 million, where house-to-house combat has kept thousands of Iraqis pinned down inside their homes.
“There was fighting in our neighbourhood for four days, and mortar shells, rockets and grenades were falling everywhere. We stayed in our house and hid under the stairs, hoping that the fighting would soon be over,” said one father who escaped from Mosul with his wife and son over the weekend.
“A car bomb went off right outside the door in front of our neighbour’s house. The blast was so huge that it damaged many houses in the surrounding area,” one man told IOM. “And it killed everybody in our neighbor’s house, a total of 17 people, including women, children and the elderly. Everyone. That’s when we decided to leave no matter what. We had to walk about 5 kilometers to reach the Iraqi forces.”
This family is one of almost 8,000 recorded by IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking since military operations to retake Mosul began on October 17 and identified significant population movements this past weekend.
IOM calculates each family has six members, on average. This would mean that the total number of Mosul displaced is now at just over 47,730 men, women and children, according to DTM data released on Friday, 11 November.
The IOM Iraq DTM for Mosul reported on 10 November some 350 families from the Merkaz Mosul sub-district have been displaced and moved to Khazer M1 camp in Ninewa governorate after security screening. Another approximately 55 families from Muhalabiya and Hamam al Aleel sub-districts moved to Qayara Jad’ah camp.
The day before, some 500 families from Merkaz Mosul sub-district also reached Khazer M1 camp, bringing to over 5,000 the number of Iraqis who since Wednesday were able to flee the combat at the center of Mosul and find safety at the Khazer M1 camp.
Dr. Atiyah attended to one family with three children. The father told him: “We fled from Gogjali neighborhood because there was heavy fighting in the streets. We had to walk a few kilometers to get to a safe area, from where the Iraqi forces transported us to Hasan Sham camp. We left everything behind. We need everything, including medical care. Our son, Rafat, is only eight months old and has a chest infection. Thankfully he was seen by a doctor today and we received medicine.”
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “We are extremely concerned about families from Mosul, both those who are still in their homes, and those fleeing amidst heavy fighting. They have witnessed extreme violence and experienced untold hardships. IOM is assisting thousands of families displaced from Mosul to the full extent of our resources, through shelter support, non-food item kits and health consultations. Thanks to our donors, we will expand this support as displacement from Mosul continues.”
In response to displacement from the Mosul corridor, IOM Iraq has also distributed 1,950 emergency shelter “sealing-off” kits that allow people living in damaged or unfinished buildings to winterize their surroundings, as well as 13,399 non-food relief item kits.
On Tuesday, November 8, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO)’s Director of Operations Jean-Louis de Brouwer toured the Iraqi government shelter site at Jada’h, where IOM is supporting camp coordination/camp management training for NGOs running the camp.
The visit also took them to IOM’s emergency sites at Al-Qayara Airstrip, where ECHO is currently contributing to shelter support.
IOM’s latest proposal includes provisions for shelter upgrades within the emergency sites, non-food relief items for people in and outside camp settings, and sealing off kits for populations living in makeshift shelters outside camps to support people through the winter months.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss is available for interview in English, French, Spanish and German.
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