Medical Relief Project for Victims of the Iraq Conflict

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Dr. Watase and the family of whom he took charge regarding their medical care.

Four Japanese Red Cross Doctors Engaged in the Medical Relief Activities Wish for Peace in Iraq
Four Japanese doctors who had been engaged in medical relief activities for the victims of the Iraq conflict at the request of the ICRC returned home. This is a report of their activities during three and a half months and what they felt and saw of the war.

Red Cross is in action in the suburban area of Mosul, 2nd major city in Iraq
The conflict in Iraq dragged on and still show no sign of ending. Last October the Iraq Army launch an operation to recapture Mosul, the second largest city of the country, which had been under control of Islamic armed forces. Fleeing from the battle, a large number of people were forced to evacuate the city. Also, the number of people injured by the battle increased rapidly. In the vicinity areas of the city the members of the ICRC and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society(IRCS) are working actively, trying to stay close together with the victims and helping them protect their lives and dignity as human beings. More than 2500 members from the local Red Crescent staff and volunteers cooperated with them and served cooked meals, delivered the relief goods and implemented medical procedures in the evacuee/internally displaced people camp in the suburban area of Mosul.

In the Midst of Cultural Differences and Diversity
The other day four Japanese Red Cross doctors who had been engaged in the medical relief activity for the victims of the conflict at the request of ICRC returned home. Four doctors, Dr. Takuya Sugimoto (Kumamoto RC Hospital), Dr. Junichiro Watase (Osaka RC Hospital), Dr. Yoshikado Inoue (Nagoya Second RC Hospital) and Dr. Ryo Takao (Kumamoto RC Hospital), were assigned to the West Erbil Acute Care Hospital (known as the Rosawa Hospital) located in Erbil in the northern part of Iraq. Doctors and nurses from 9 countries including Japan were dispatched to the hospital where approx. 400 cases of surgical operations of all degrees were conducted during three and a half months. Each of the doctors and the nurses had many difficulties in carrying out their duties due to difference of languages, cultures and methods of medical care. Dr. Inoue said, “When we communicate with the doctors and nurses from different backgrounds, it is important to take an interest in each other. I like cooking, so I made sushi. The other members were so delighted and through this opportunity we could get along with each other after that.”

May peaceful life return to the Iraqi people as soon as possible
Dr. Watase was in charge of medical care for a family of 5 children who seemed to have suffered the damage from chemical weapons. He said, “Those people didn’t take part of the hostilities, but lived peacefully as ordinary citizens. Seeing them suffering, I keenly felt that we must not fight a war, whatever the reason may be. I cannot be indifferent about what happened to them as one of the human beings living together on the earth. It is our policy to give them proper medical care continuously.” Dr. Takao said, “This is my first mission in an overseas medical relief activity. I really wanted to be helpful to my patients as much as possible, so I worked hard.” It was the most wonderful thing for the four doctors when the victims’ wounds healed and they regained their smiles. After returning home, each of them returned to their own duty at their hospitals, respectively. However, they are still concerned about the Iraqi people and hope that their peaceful days will be restored in not a distant future.