Iraq: Order of Malta brings medical aid to refugees fleeing IS
Malteser International, the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta, has provided medical assistance for 10,000 displaced Christians and minorities in north Iraq. A shipment containing drugs, medical supplies, hygiene items, wheelchairs and water filtration and storage systems has been distributed to the refugee camps around Erbil through the humanitarian agency’s network on the ground.
“This first shipment will start addressing the dire need for essential drugs as well as drugs for chronic illnesses, especially at primary healthcare facilities receiving a large number of displaced persons,” says Dr. Juergen Clemens, Malteser International’s emergency relief coordinator. “However, there are still gaps that need to be filled, for instance in psychosocial care, as not enough providers are available to meet the rising demands.”
“The number of refugees and displaced continues to rise – the United Nations estimates there are over a million just in north Iraq. In addition to Christians and minorities who are being persecuted by the Islamic State militias, there are also many Syrian refugees seeking safety in the Kurdistan region.”
Malteser has also delivered a shipping container clinic to the health center of Mart Shmoni church, where gravely ill patients can be cared for and housed and are deploying a mobile medical team consisting of two doctors and two nurses. There are also further plans to provide an additional health center with a month’s supply of medicines.
Malteser International is already planning beyond the initial emergency phase. “The refugees will need our help in the middle to long-term as well, whether they remain displaced or are able to return to their homes,” says Dr Juergen Clemens.