Every day, in the MSF hospitals, we witness the most appalling injuries inflicted by this war.
From 17 October 2016, the date when military operations began in Mosul, nearly 730,000 people have been displaced from the city. The battle for Mosul is having a devastating impact on the civilian population. “Every day, in the MSF hospitals, we witness the most appalling injuries inflicted by this war: an entire family was killed apart from just one survivor; a little boy with a gunshot wound to the head; another survivor who had been treated in his house for days before arriving at our hospital paralysed; a man who died upon arrival from wounds he had received when he was protecting his son from an explosion...”, explains François Dumont, MSF communications manager, having returned from his mission. In three months of activity, over 2600 patients have been admitted to just one of our hospitals, more than half of whom were women and children, and 67% had war wounds.
“At the moment we have very little information about the hundreds of thousands of people still trapped behind the front line in the West Mosul siege zone”, continues François Dumont. “Patients lucky enough to reach one of our treatment centres tell us that there is no water or food in there, and that access to any health treatment is almost impossible. Civilians are prevented from leaving the city, and those who try to escape are killed or deliberately targeted in the crossfire”.
Although trauma cases are the most visible medical consequence of the fighting, many other patients need emergency medical or surgical treatment. “As the majority of the medical infrastructures in Mosul have been destroyed or damaged, MSF is working to improve access to medical treatment for those who are vulnerable. We are providing maternity treatment, or post-operative care for the wounded who need reconstructive surgery, physiotherapy or rehabilitation”, adds François Dumont.
“Approximately 500,000 people who have managed to flee Mosul are now in camps, and for these traumatised women, men and children, the road to recovery and reconstruction will be a long one. We are providing them with healthcare, particularly for chronic illnesses, but also a significant amount of psychological and psychiatric help.”
In addition, since March, MSF has had to treat children arriving from Western Mosul, suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the majority of them aged under six months. MSF has therefore extended its action at the Qayarrah therapeutic feeding centre in order to respond to these needs.
In Iraq, the MSF projects depend on over 1600 national and international employees working in 10 governorates (Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salah Al-Din, Al-Anbar, Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Diyala, Baghdad and Najaf). MSF is running 7 medical infrastructures or hospitals in districts of Mosul and its outskirts, including mobile teams in the displaced persons’ camps.
* Photo cover: Al Salam hospital destroyed during the battle for Mosul. © Francesco Segoni/MSF