Health Conditions in Iraq Become Alarming

09/24/2014
Map of Iraq

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders reports the health situation in Iraq is alarming.  The group, known by its French initials MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), says conditions are particularly dire for hundreds of thousands of people trapped in conflict zones.  

Representatives from Doctors Without Borders just back from a mission to Iraq, report conditions in that country are grim.  They say their medical activities are focused mainly in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq because they have no access to territories seized by the militant group Islamic State.  

The United Nations reports more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in Iraq since the beginning of the year; about 900,000 are in Kurdistan.  The rest, more than one million, are trapped in areas controlled by IS.

MSF Director General Bruno Jochum says living conditions for the displaced people in Kurdistan are appalling.  He says most are living in schools, in public buildings, and in buildings still under construction.  

He says some buildings he visited have no walls and pose a hazard for children.  He says 6,000 people living in one complex have to share 20 latrines.  He says they have no sanitation and water is scarce.  

Jochum says the risk of epidemics of diarrhea, skin diseases and gastrointestinal infections is on the rise.

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