Baghdad: Caritas medical equipment destroyed in hospital bombing

 Caritas Internationalis has expressed concern that the vital medical equipment it donated to the Iraq Red Crescent Society hospital on the outskirts of Baghdad before the outbreak of hostilities may not have survived the bombing of the compound on Wednesday, 2 April. As part of its disaster preparedness programme, Confrerie de la Charitie (Caritas Iraq) pre-positioned a mobile x-ray machine and an ECG machine with a monitor at this hospital which is an established medical institution specialising in paediatrics. The compound also includes a maternity hospital and a surgical hospital. The World Health Organisation has reported that the compound was badly damaged but no casualties were reported as the building had been evacuated. Outside the hospital, 27 people were injured and three people died in the bombing. Karl Ammann, leader of the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Response Support Team, said: "It is a tragedy that three people and 26 were injured in this attack. We are relieved that the death and injury tolls were not higher. We have not been able to ascertain if our equipment survived the bombing. We assume that since the building was badly damaged, our medical supplies may have been destroyed. This is a tragedy for the sick people, particularly the children who need diagnosis and treatment. Caritas would remind all warring parties of their obligations under international law to spare all infrastructure essential for the wellbeing and survival of civilians." Caritas Internationalis, which is a confederation of 154 relief, development and social service organisations serving in 198 countries and territories, has launched an appeal for more than USD 8 million to support more than 43,000 families or over 260,000 internally displaced people in Iraq over the next three months. The funds raised will be used to support relief programme organised by Confrerie de la charitie (Caritas Iraq) for internally displaced people in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk and around the Baghdad and Bashra areas. Caritas Iraq will focus on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people from malnourished children and nursing mothers to pregnant women and the sick. Nearly half the population targeted are under the age of 14 years or over 60 years of age. Some 1,740 families or 10,440 people living in Church buildings will be targeted along with 21,000 families or 126,000 people living with host families. The 21,000 host families will also benefit under this programme. Assistance will be provided using Caritas Iraq's existing network of 14 Centres and in 87 Church compounds. The assistance will include water, sanitation, healthcare along with general food and supplementary food for children. Each displaced family will receive food for three months along with water containers, water purification tablets, mattresses, blankets, kitchen utensils, stoves, fuel and hygiene kits. Mr Ammann said: "The disaster preparedness programme, organised over many months, is working well but we must now look to respond to the changing environment inside Iraq. People are being displaced and seeking sanctuary in safer towns and villages. Many families have been left destitute. The longer this war continues, the worse things will get for the civilian population." The Emergency Response Support Team (ERST) is a support and solidarity mechanism activated by Caritas Internationalis in response to an emergency. A team of experienced workers, from a range of disciplines, are brought together to support the relief efforts of the local Catholic agency. Source: Caritas

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