In October of last year, a coalition including Iraqi, Kurdish and Assyrian troops launched what they hoped would be a final assault to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. Nearly six months later, the battle continues to rage on. Over 200,000 people have been displaced because of this conflict. In northern Iraq, Samaritan’s Purse is working to provide food and healthcare. The Samaritan’s Purse Hospital in Iraq opened on Christmas day and has cared for more nearly 1,000 patients.
The Samaritan’s Purse Hospital in Iraq is located in the northern plains of Nineveh. It has an emergency room and two operating rooms to serve patients who might not survive a lengthy trip to the nearest medical center in Erbil.
As expected, many of the patients being treated are victims of trauma, both physical and psychological. What may surprise people is that most of the patients at the Samaritan’s Purse Hospital in Iraq are women or children. For over two years, Mosul has been under ISIS control. The Iraqis have witnessed their communities destroyed by fire and bombs set off by the extremists. They have witnessed the beheading of those that have tried to resist.
Time seems to be running out for ISIS in Iraq’s second-largest city, and their desperation is clear. As Iraqi forces close in on the remaining ISIS stronghold, the extremists have resorted to using chemical weapons on innocent civilians. Patients at the Samaritan’s Purse Hospital in Iraq and other medical facilities have presented symptoms consistent with chemical exposure. Victims of chemical attacks can suffer from eye irritation, coughing, blisters, and vomiting. WHO activated an emergency response plan to help aid in the treatment of these patients.
These extreme measures being used by ISIS suggest that defeat is imminent. However, even after ISIS has been defeated in Mosul, and the Samaritan’s Purse hospital in Iraq can be closed, a battle remains to be fought — one with new, potentially more difficult challenges than the current conflict. In the absence of a shared, unifying enemy, disparate factions could prevent the country from recovering properly. Without sufficient support and leadership, the victory would be incomplete.
– Rebecca Yu