MSF warns of health threats in Iraq’s conflict zones

Geneva, Sep 25 (IANS/EFE)┬áThe situation of more than 2 million people trapped in conflict zones in Iraq is “desperate and alarming”, but their plight is not attracting the international concern that it should, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) director general Bruno Jochum said Wednesday.

The problem is that the crisis is being addressed in geopolitical terms and not on humanitarian grounds, Jochum said, shortly after his return from Iraq, warning of the danger of a catastrophe in the country.

MSF program manager Gustavo Fernandez said the situation was particularly alarming in the health sector, given the inadequate security guarantees and lack of running water in zones where people are trapped by the fighting, making it easy for epidemics to spread.

If this should happen, medical aid would not be able to reach areas in Iraq and Syria that have fallen under the control of the radical Islamic State (IS) jihadi group, Fernandez said.

About 900,000 people in those zones were living in unacceptable conditions, with an increase in the last three weeks in cases of diarrhea, skin infections and gastrointestinal problems.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian organisation that operates in conflict zones and responds to natural disasters around the world.

The security situation in Iraq began to drastically deteriorate since June 10 when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and hundreds of IS militants. The group took control of northern Iraqi city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territory after the Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

The extremist group has committed heinous crimes and threatened all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Yazidis, during its advances.

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