Erbil hospitals are overwhelmed caring for patients from Mosul. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As many as 28,000 injured from Mosul have received medical treatment in Erbil since a wide-ranging military operation against ISIS started in October 2016, according to official data.
According to an official announcement from the Erbil General Health Directorate, of this number 14,000 are civilians and military personnel injured on the battlefields in Mosul. A similar number are patients suffering from various illnesses due to lack of health services in Mosul and its vicinity.
“The wounded civilians have been injured by mortar fire and bombings during fights to re-control the left side of Mosul. Also, in liberating al-Salam hospital, lots of people were wounded,” the statement explained.
It added that Erbil hospitals are overwhelmed with patients from Mosul and that has led to shortages in medical supplies. “The medicines set to be used for eight months finished in two months.”
The Erbil health department criticized the Iraqi government, which has not provided the full assistance needed to help the region amid the growing medical crisis.
“The Iraqi government’s assistance to provide medicines and medical needs are limited and does not satisfy our requirements. However, to some extent, they have been helpful and assisted Erbil health mobile teams at refugee camps,” the statement detailed.
“We asked the Iraqi government to resolve this issue, but they did not reach out to us.
Erbil health authorities have been calling attention to the growing crisis for months. “Almost all hospitals are dedicated to receive Mosul injuries,” the head of Erbil’s health department Saman Barzinji said in December, warning that “a catastrophe may occur if shortage of medicine continues.”
He said that Erbil was happy and proud to treat the injured from Mosul but urged Baghdad to take a share in the responsibility.
Earlier this month, Barzinji warned that Erbil’s Maternity Hospital may have to halt surgeries if it did not receive urgent assistance. The hospital was facing a shortage of anesthesia.
In January, Kuwait delivered 10 tons of medicine for displaced Mosulawis living in the Kurdistan Region.
During a visit to Erbil in early December, Hazim Jumaili, Iraq's deputy health minister, admitted that both the Iraqi and Kurdish governments were dealing with a severe humanitarian crisis.
Medical facilities in liberated east Mosul were severely damaged in the fighting. Salam Hospital, formerly a top health centre in Mosul, is now “destroyed,” Ayad Ibrahim, a staff worker at the hospital, told Rudaw in January. Smaller medical centres have been opened but are lacking medicines and basic equipment.
On Wednesday, the UN announced it was temporarily suspending aid delivery to east Mosul, citing security concerns. “[U]ntil security improves, it will be difficult for us to provide assistance,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said.
ISIS continues to launch deadly attacks on eastern Mosul, using suicide bombers, mortars, and drones.