Iraq: Hospitals Destroyed by Air Strikes Leave Iraqis without Healthcare


Baghdad/Geneva - 24 July 2014 – Intense shelling and aerial assaults in northern and central Iraq have hit hospitals and other medical facilities, some supported by the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), depriving civilians of much needed medical care. MSF calls upon all parties to the conflict to respect health facilities, to allow medical staff to continue carrying out their work, and to preserve full access to health services.

'Medical staff have fled'
“We are receiving accounts from medical staff that more and more hospitals have been hit by bombs in recent weeks,” says Fabio Forgione, MSF head of mission in Iraq. “Medical staff have fled, fearing attacks on the health facilities where they are working. We are extremely concerned that significant numbers of people are now deprived of the medical assistance they need.”

In the town of Shirqat, between Mosul and Tikrit, the hospital was bombed on 20 July. “I was in the emergency ward, operating on a patient, when the hospital was hit,” says an Iraqi surgeon, speaking by phone from the conflict zone. “Suddenly all hell broke loose: the power went out; people started running in all directions, not knowing whether to escape or to seek shelter in the hospital. Everybody was terrified.”

Direct hits on hospital
Since 20 July, the hospital in Shirqat has received several more direct hits, and all patients have now been evacuated. A number of patients have been transferred to the closest hospital still standing, in the town of Hawija, while some of the health services have been moved to three different locations in town. “Working conditions are desperate and many items are in short supply, from antibiotics to anaesthetics,” says the Iraqi surgeon.

Following the shelling of MSF’s clinic in Tikrit on 13 June, which aimed to provide medical care to some 40,000 displaced people in the region, MSF called upon all factions to respect medical staff and facilities. Two weeks later, on 27 June, the main hospital in Tikrit was hit by an airstrike.

The full article continues at on MSF’s website.