UPDATE: Attached is our official final report from Anbar, complete with links to Google Maps of the current situation in Al Qaim. Please feel free to share this widely!
Greetings everyone, and apologies for the long absence! Throughout the last two months, GRM has been prepping and planning for what was expected to be a long and brutal last battle to kick ISIS out of Iraq: Anbar. The vast desert province has most of the population focused along the river, but large swaths of desert had to be taken before we deployed to towns like Anah, Rawa, and Qaim.
As the last operation to push ISIS out of Iraq commenced, GRM was there on the ground. The only international NGO operating in Anbar prior to and during the offensive, GRM co-located with our former partners, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces medics who enhance our medical capacity and give us the ability to operate safely and as far forward as possible. Our team was on the ground a week prior to the battle to set up and arrange and effective trauma referral pathway, from point of injury to the closest higher level of care.
To everyone’s surprise, the battle that should have taken two months took less than two days for the main city of Qaim, and to the benefit of everyone, there were very few casualties. ISIS took their families and ran, many of them across the border to Syria, where offensives are still raging today. Just because the battle was over doesn’t mean our work is done!
Our team spent the next week doing assessments – on neighborhood services, water treatment plants, and hospitals to be cleaned and repaired – all written up and reported to make access easier for larger organizations that will come later and stay to help rebuild the province. We interviewed families about their needs, liaised with local engineers and former employees of public service systems, and connected with military partners.
There is more work to be done! The battle for Rawa and villages on the north side of the river just finished, and we will deploy our team once again for similar assessments in the coming weeks. Your continued support and donations ensures GRM is able to keep operating and finish our mission in Iraq. Keep following along!