• Kyodo


Japan will extend $6 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq to help the country deal with residents displaced by civil unrest, but the funds aren’t expected to help beleaguered medical groups struggling in the country.

A Red Cross nurse who has been helping refugees in conflict-torn Iraq said she sometimes finds herself in a dilemma between providing timely relief supplies and staying safe.

“We have so many things that are obstacles to our activities,” Chiyuki Yoshida of the Japanese Red Cross Society Wakayama Medical Center told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

As soon as she was sent to Iraq in late November to join the International Committee of the Red Cross, conflict between the government and Islamist militants escalated, generating about 1 million refugees, including from neighboring Syria, Yoshida said.

The international medical assistance expert, who is on a temporary visit to Japan to rest, occasionally gets ordered by the ICRC to stay in the office when there are explosions near her destination even when she needs to leave to provide urgent relief supplies.

“I’m often unable to provide help to people who are waiting, even though I’m ready,” Yoshida said.

Yoshida has mainly been involved in training ambulance crews and drivers in emergency treatment techniques, and in monitoring the health conditions of displaced people.

Although the veteran nurse, with 25 years of experience, is resting at home, she is already bracing for big challenges when she returns to Iraq in early July.

She wants the local police to relax their strict traffic controls so ambulances can move more freely to help people in need.

“We want to work with the Ministry of Health and police to see if we can do anything to resolve the problem,” she said.

Providing clean water is another major issue, she said.

As for Japan’s $6 million of assistance for those displaced by the fighting in Iraq, Yoshida refrained from commenting about how effective it will be.

“It looks like it will be a long battle,” she said.