OTTAWA Red Cross doctors
who visited southern Iraq this week saw "incredible" levels
of civilian casualties including a truckload of dismembered women and
children, a spokesman said Thursday from Baghdad.
Roland Huguenin, one of six
International Red Cross workers in the Iraqi capital, said doctors
were horrified by the casualties they found in the hospital in Hilla,
about 160 kilometres south of Baghdad.
"There has been an incredible
number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of
Huguenin said in a interview by satellite telephone.
"We saw that a truck
was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and
children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe
this was happening."
Huguenin said the dead and injured in Hilla came from the village of
Nasiriyah, where there has been heavy fighting between American troops
and Iraqi soldiers, and appeared to be the result of "bombs,
"At this stage we cannot
comment on the nature of what happened exactly at that place . . .
but it was definitely a different pattern from what we had seen in
Basra or Baghdad.
"There will be investigations
I am sure."
Baghdad and Basra are coping
relatively well with the flow of wounded, said Huguenin, estimating
that Baghdad hospitals have been getting about 100 wounded a day.
Most of the wounded in the
two large cities have suffered superficial shrapnel wounds, with only
about 15 per cent requiring internal surgery, he said.
But the pattern in Hilla was
"In the case of Hilla,
everybody had very serious wounds and many, many of them small kids
and women. We had small toddlers of two or three years of age who had
lost their legs, their arms. We have called this a horror."
At least 400 people were taken
to the Hilla hospital over a period of two days, he said -- far beyond
"Doctors worked around
the clock to do as much as they could. They just had to manage, that
The city is no longer accessible,
Red Cross staff are also concerned
about what may be happening in other smaller centres south of Baghdad.
"We do not know what
is going on in Najaf and Kabala. It has become physically impossible
for us to reach out to those cities because the major road has become
a zone of combat."
The Red Cross was able to
claim one significant success this week: it played a key role in re-establishing
water supplies at Basra.
Power for a water-pumping
station had been accidentally knocked out in the attack on the city,
leaving about a million people without water. Iraqi technicians couldn't
reach the station to repair it because it was under coalition control.
The Red Cross was able to
negotiate safe passage for a group of Iraqi engineers who crossed the
fire line and made repairs. Basra now has 90 per cent of its normal
water supply, said Huguenin.
Huguenin, a Swiss, is one
of six international Red Cross workers still in Baghdad. The team includes
two Canadians, Vatche Arslanian of Oromocto, N.B., and Kassandra Vartell
The Red Cross expects the
humanitarian crisis in Iraq to grow and is calling for donations to
help cope. The Red Cross Web site is: www.redcross.ca
THE IRAQI BODY COUNT DATABASE