NEW YORK/GENEVA — Shelling in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on June 13 caused severe damage to a clinic run by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), disrupting medical care for tens of thousands of people recently displaced by conflict in Iraq, MSF said today.

MSF called on all parties to the conflict to respect medical facilities and staff, and to spare the lives of civilians.

“Direct or indirect attacks on health staff and structures seriously impede the delivery of essential medical aid,” said MSF Head of Mission in Iraq, Fabio Forgione. “These attacks stop us from accessing patients and put our staff and patients at severe risk.”  

Approximately 40,000 people have fled to the Tikrit area because of the recent surge of violence in Iraq. The humanitarian situation in the country is extremely worrying, MSF said, particularly in Mosul in the northeast, and in Anbar Province in the west of the country, from where hundreds of thousands of people have fled and now face difficult living conditions.

“People are living in schools, mosques, unfinished buildings, or with relatives, and urgently need water, shelter, food, and emergency health care,” said Forgione. “However, providing the most basic assistance is extremely challenging when medical activities themselves come under attack.”  

Despite the volatile security situation, MSF teams on Sunday distributed relief items to 250 families in the city of Bashiqa, in Mosul district. Teams in Bashiqa and Tess-Kharab are also running mobile clinics to provide medical care to the displaced.

In the coming days, MSF will increase activities in Iraq through mobile clinics between Dohuk and Mosul, where thousands of people have sought refuge. MSF is also planning to open a medical clinic in Kirkuk and will reinforce surgical teams in Tikrit and Hawijah. Security permitting, MSF will continue to distribute relief items to the most vulnerable displaced people in areas where the organization is working.  

Since April, MSF teams have been assisting displaced people in Tikrit, who fled Falluja over recent months. MSF recently provided relief items, including hygiene kits and blankets, to 3,000 families there.

Despite the ongoing conflict in Iraq, which has made it very difficult for humanitarian organizations to work in the country, MSF is striving to provide medical care to the Iraqi people. MSF has worked continuously in the country since 2006, currently employing 300 staff. In order to ensure its independence, MSF does not accept funding from any government, religious group, or international agency for its programs in Iraq, and relies solely on private donations from the general public around the world to carry out its work.