10 April 2003: What UNICEF said at the UN briefing
Briefing by Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF
Malnutrition rates are likely to increase sharply by the end of April all over Southern Iraq due to the water situation.
UNICEF finds reports of continued chaos in Baghdad seriously worrying.
The situation in hospitals continues to be critical and more generally UNICEF is seeing an unfolding picture of too much desperation, too many guns, and families living in fear and uncertainty.
The widespread looting and chaos spread to UNICEFs offices in Baghdad yesterday phones, chairs, essentially everything was taken away.
UNICEF teams reaching Um Qasar are also painting a seriously worrying picture. In the past few days UNICEF has had water and health specialists there. The most alarming information they reported is the dramatic increase in diarrhoeal disease during the past five days. Doctors at the local hospital reported the staggering increase of childhood diarrhoea this is directly related to the water situation in Southern Iraq:
Based on what theyve seen, they conclude that malnutrition rates are likely to increase sharply by the end of April all over Southern Iraq due to the water situation.
UNICEF is setting up a water bladder of 10-thousand litres for the hospital in Um Qasar today.
Another alarming observation is related to staffing in the hospital itself. Normally, the local hospital has a staff of six doctors. Now there are only two. The others have left to be near their families and homes. By 10am this morning, the two doctors had seen 100 patients. Some wounded and lots of women and children often very young children, under the age of 5.
On average since the conflict began, the doctors treat 340 cases a day. They see patients from Safwan and even Basra. Basra is the second biggest city in Iraq and medical facilities have been looted, according to the patients who have made the journey from the city.
Children are suffering from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections common among Iraqi children, but what is uncommon are the numbers of children who are sick and the lack of access to medical care.
For further information please contact us:.
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Iraq:
For interviews in the region, write or call directly to the UNICEF NewsDesk in Amman: