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Debaga camp and mobile clinic, Erbil N Iraq

MSFALB1398

Dr Humam Mohammed, 28, and three colleagues operate in the Debaga refugee camp near Erbil, Iraq. Previously he worked for five months in Mosul under the jihadi group’s rule, and lived in fear of it before he and his wife escaped.

The bus converted into a mobile clinic, is loaded with pills and paperwork and driven around the Debaga internal displacement camp in northern Iraq, run by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

Every day, a crowd of patients stands in the heat and dust for a chance to sit with doctors and discuss what ails them. Some are aching after spending hours on the run to flee their homes. Others are struggling to deal with babies, frail from malnutrition after months trapped in a town on the brink of starvation.

Patients wait outside the MSF mobile clinic to be assessed by the nurse, Sufyan Ahmed, before entering the bus. The small MSF team works to give the camp’s residents access to primary healthcare

MSF treats psychological wounds as seriously as physical injuries. In camps like Debaga, doctors say most patients struggle with psychological trauma. There can be a stigma over psychotherapy in conservative parts of the Middle East, including Iraq, but Bilal Budair, the clinic’s manager, was shocked when he saw how quickly the programme was embraced.

“The pain transcended the stigma,” he says. “People are living with unbearable pain.”
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