Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hospital: Diwaniya at brink of 'real humanitarian catastrophe' -- medicine, electricty scarce -- dead and wounded lying in streets

U.S. armored vehicles roll in Diwaniya on Monday. Although the military says an emergency curfew has been lifted, reports have leaked out that many people are afraid to leave their homes and are running out of food.

A week of fierce clashes between US-Iraqi forces and Shia militiamen in Diwaniyah has brought the city to the brink of a "real humanitarian catastrophe", health workers said on Wednesday. Aid agencies and doctors are demanding they be given access to a desperate population who have become prisoners in their own homes.

"We can't send our ambulances in to collect dead bodies or the wounded from the streets. And we are running out of essential medical items such as pain killer tablets, IV fluids, anaesthesia, stitches, antiseptics and things like bandages and cotton," said Dr Kamal Hussein of the city's general hospital.

"In addition, we don't have enough fuel to operate our generators so we only have four to six hours of electricity a day," Hussein added. "The government and US forces must allow medicines into this city otherwise there will be a real humanitarian catastrophe."

The predominantly Shia city of Diwaniyah, about 130km south of the capital, Baghdad, has a population of between 400,000 and half a million.

Read the rest at Reuters/Altenet

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