Published time: 22 Apr, 2017 17:35
A hospital near western Mosul is struggling to operate again after the devastation left behind by retreating Islamic State fighters. For many civilians hurt in the crossfire as Iraqi forces are fighting to take the city from the jihadists, it’s the only place to come for treatment.
The Qayyara hospital is located in a small town some 60km south from Mosul. It was fully liberated from IS (formerly ISIS/ISIL) in August 2016, but the Islamists made sure to live nothing valuable behind.
“Unfortunately, as you saw, the hospital was completely destroyed. All the instruments, equipment and all their beds were stolen and the things they couldn't steal, such as the machine behind me, they broke it before they ran away,” Dr. Mansour Maarouf told Eyes On Events as he showed the camera crew around the premises.
The town is located on the same western bank of the River Tigris where the fighting is happening now between the Iraqi forces and IS. For many civilians, the Qayyara hospital is the closest and often only medical facility they can turn to. This is especially true for emergency cases.
“There is no other place to take them. So this hospital is the only one that receive the traumatized and also the dead from the civilian population,” Dr. Maarouf said.
One of the patients, Mustapha, told Eyes On Events how he ended up in Qayyara.
“I ran away after one suicide car bomb exploded in the streets. The Daesh [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] saw me, and they shot me in my back and my hand,” he said, calling IS by its Arabic nickname. “The Iraqi Army retained me for a couple of hours.”
READ MORE: Western Mosul on the verge of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe,’ UN warns
The World Health Organization helped the hospital out with some equipment, including an X-ray machine, two operation theaters and a laboratory, but much more is needed to meet the needs for medical assistance in the area.
The hospital’s morgue is overflowing with bodies, with relatives having to collect and bury them. The hospital appealed to the Iraqi government for shelves, so it can store more corpses in its cold unit.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still trapped in western Mosul, where urban fighting continues in a labyrinth of narrow streets. As of April 20, some 503,000 people had been displaced from the city, out of which 91,000 have returned, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Saturday, citing government figures.