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Briefing note

21 April 2003: What UNICEF said at the UN briefing

Yesterday, UNICEF staff in Baghdad delivered vital medical supplies and drugs sent from Jordan to the Al-Kindi hospital, where the situation is now finally improving.

Briefing by Geoff Keele, UNICEF Communication Officer, IRAQ

Links

Read Carol Bellamy's 20 March statement

9 April press release

20 April 2003 What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman

17 April 2003
16 April 2003
15 April 2003
14 April 2003
11 April 2003

10 April 2003
9 April 2003
8 April 2003

more ...

• Access more information about the children of Iraq at UNICEF's online Iraq Press Room

• UNICEF's professional photos are available to qualified publications. Write photo@unicef.org

Good Afternoon,

Over the past two days, UNICEF Staff in Baghdad have visited and carried out assessments of the city's hospitals, orphanages, education facilities, and water and sewage treatment plants. Today I will discuss the situation of the health, water, and sanitation sectors.

At the Al-Salam Primary Health Care Centre, only seven per cent of the original staff are currently working. However, volunteers from the local community are assisting the medical staff. The hospital is experiencing a shortage of water, anti-diarrhoeal drugs and injectable and oral antibiotics. The hospital also suffers from bad sewage drainage. The hospital normally covers a suburb of 45,000 people, but because other hospitals in the area are not operational, Al-Salam is now the primary hospital for more than 100,000 people.

At the Central Child Hospital, there has been a huge increase in diarrhoeal cases. Of the children visiting the hospital, 90 per cent are suffering from diarrhea. The hospital receives 2,000 patients a day. So far, the hospital has had to bury 100 people in its garden. Of this, 10 per cent were children.

The Al-Habibiya Obstetrical hospital in Saddam City was not affected by looting, and has been functioning throughout the war. However, do to staffing problems, the hospital is only running at 50 per cent of its capacity.

At the Baghdad Al-Jadida health care centre, medical staff are receiving up to 1,500 patients a day. The centre has a supply of drugs to last one month, but only has fuel enough to power the centre's generator for another two weeks. All vaccines were destroyed when the power was cut early on in the conflict.

Yesterday, UNICEF staff in Baghdad delivered vital medical supplies and drugs sent from Jordan to the Al-Kindi hospital, where the situation is now finally improving.

In the water and sanitation sector, UNICEF created a number of mobile teams to repair and maintain generators at these plants. The teams were able to ensure that the generators functioned throughout the conflict. However, fuel is starting to run out and more needs to be transported urgently. UNICEF has coordinated with the coalition authorities to immediately provide daily requirements of fuel to the two major water treatment plants in Baghdad, the Al-Karkh and seven Nissan plants. Garbage collection vehicles have started working in some areas, but the number of vehicles are few and the task of cleaning up the city is very big.

In the south, UNICEF water and sanitation teams visiting Umm Quasar and Az Zubair report increasing collaboration with staff from the local authorities. This shows that more engineers and other essential personnel are returning to work at vital utilities in these towns. UNICEF workers have also been taking tools to the water authority staff to assist them in their repairs of infrastructure, such as pipelines.

For further information please contact us:.

Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Iraq: gkeele@unicef.org
(962-6) 551-5921 ext. 126,
Cell +962-79) 692-6191
Anis Salem, UNICEF Amman: asalem@unicef.org
(+962-6) 553-9977 ext. 407
(Cell + 962 79 557 9991
Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Amman: wbelmonte@unicef.org,
(Cell + 962 79 504 2058
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York, aironside@unicef.org
(+1-212) 326-7261

For interviews in the region, write or call directly to the UNICEF NewsDesk in Amman:

(962-79) 50422058
iraqichild@unicef.org

Broadcasters!
UNICEF has video footage from inside Iraq, topics include health, nutrition, education, and access to water and relief supplies being packed at UNICEF's global warehouse . For a Beta copy of the b-roll, along with shot descriptions.