Saturday, May 17, 2014

17 May 2014

The Fallujah General Hospital was hit today by three mortar rounds but there were no casualties; only structural damage to the emergency room; the hospital director has called on security forces to avoid a repetition of such incidents, since the hospital provides medical services to Fallujah's civilians. This is the seventh time that the hospital has been hit since the Anbar crisis began four months ago.

The hospital announced today that 5 residents have been killed and 15 others were wounded as a result of the renewed clashes in Al-Sichir and an adjacent residential district. The fighting between the security forces and the gunmen resulted in the gunmen forcing the military forces to withdraw to their initial positions; the gunmen's fierce resistance included the use of both light and heavy weapons in the confrontation.

Clashes have also resumed in the southernmost districts of Fallujah where the fighting is being described as running street battles with both sides using high-tech weapons that have been brought into the governorate. Government tactics are being described as 'scorched earth' tactics: they have been unable to advance and are resorting to striking at the gunmen by striking the residential districts where the gunmen have set themselves up, using mortar and artillery fire and aerial bombardment, hoping to weaken them prior to attempting incursions in the long term.

In Ramadi, the city is relatively calm and there is normal activity in the public markets. There are districts that have been abandoned by the gunmen, to be replaced by SWAT teams and other security forces, allowing residents to return to their homes in those districts. Residents have been demonstrating against their being banned from entering their districts by security forces, even though these districts have been deemed secure; the protesters are demanding that they be granted the appropriate permits within one week.

The humanitarian situation in Anbar, especially regarding  the people who have been displaced from Ramadi and Fallujah, is still forcing the migrants to shelter in unsuitable conditions, with most families having taken refuge in school buildings where 5 - 10 people are sharing a single classroom. There are also shortages of electricity, water, and foodstuffs. Some humanitarian organizations, particularly the Red Crescent, the Red Cross, and the local government have provided some aid but the sheer numbers of migrants has made it very difficult to provide for all of them. Many are suffering from long-term health conditions such as diabetes; there are also the children and the elderly with their special requirements. The widespread dispersal of the migrant families has made it difficult, for example, for the Anbar health authorities to carry out their task of vaccinating children against polio. 

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