War Surgery in Erbil

Iraq - Erbil

1,412

War victims treated in OPD

1,749

Surgical interventions

50%

of patients were women and children

Two months after fighting ended in Mosul, we handed management of the Emergency Hospital in Erbil over to the local authorities

Initial agreements called for us to stay until June 2017, at which point we decided to stay for another two months. On 31 August, we officially left the Emergency Hospital in the hands of the Ministry of Health.

Although this project is completed, we know that war does not end with the last battle. People still need care, medical help and prosthetic limbs. The wounds and indelible marks that war leaves every time it strikes still need to heal. It will take time, of course. For this reason, we will stay in contact with the injured and collaborate with the Mosul Rehabilitation Centre, offering treatment and appying prostheses to all the amputees we’ll be able to help.

Return to Erbil

In January 2017 we were back in Erbil, in the same hospital we built in 1998 to treat victims of landmines. We handed it over to the local authorities in 2005, by which point Iraqi Kurdistan seemed a safe area in full recovery.

The Kurdish authorities asked us to run the old hospital once more, so that we could help the wounded fleeing Mosul.

Our international team got to work straight away training local medical staff, for the most part colleagues from before we left the hospital in 2005. We were glad to return and be a part of the same team, the same family. It was time to start again, but this time together.

The largest urban battle of the last 70 years

The more than two-year occupation by Isis and the Iraqi counteroffensive subjected the city to unprecedented violence. The urban battle fought in Mosul is considered the largest since the Second World War.

The hospitals had become inaccessible or stopped running. Many died from lack of medical care or from long transfer times. A third of the population, around 700,000 people, had no choice and were forced to flee. Many fell victim to mines, shells and bullets and ended up patients in our Erbil hospital, 80 kilometres from Mosul. Nearly all of them came from the besieged western part of the city, where they had lived until war came to their doors.

In July 2017, Mosul was liberated. Most of our patients claimed to have lost between two and five relatives in the battle. Many people returned to the city and now Mosul is coming back to life, little by little, as the bazaars reopen and houses are inhabited once again.

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