Demand martyr recognition

Families commemorate third anniversary of Nasiriyah hospital fire

DHI QAR — Families gathered on Wednesday at the Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar, to mark the third anniversary of a massive fire that killed at least 60 patients being treated for COVID-19.

They reiterated their call for legislative support for the victims’ families.

On July 12, 2021, a fire broke out at Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital, killing at least 60 people and injuring over 100. The number of dead was initially declared as 92 before being revised down by authorities.

The blaze, caused by an exploding oxygen cylinder in the COVID-19 isolation ward, underscored severe lapses in hospital safety standards, including the absence of fire alarms and sprinkler systems.

The incident, which followed a similar fire in Baghdad three months earlier, sparked widespread calls for reforms in Iraq’s health sector. Authorities suspended hospital and health officials pending an investigation, as President Barham Salih blamed the tragedy on “persistent corruption and mismanagement” in the healthcare system.

At the memorial service, Ahmad Abdulhussein, a relative of one of the victims, emphasized the community’s ongoing struggle for justice. “We held a memorial service at the site of the Nakaa Hospital incident,” Abdulhussein told 964media. “We call on honorable people to stand with us to secure the rights of the martyrs.”

The families are pressing for the victims to be officially recognized as “martyrs,” entitling them to pensions similar to those received by other martyrs’ families. “We demand land plots and job opportunities for their families, and social care pensions for the elderly,” Abdulhussein added.

Hussein Al-Battat, a member of the Parliamentary Martyrs Committee, highlighted ongoing legislative efforts. “We emphasize the importance of ensuring the rights of the Nakaa Center victims,” Al-Battat said. “We are following up on their legislation, and there is communication between the Parliamentary Martyrs Committee and the Council of Ministers.”

The Dhi Qar Provincial Council is set to vote on measures to support the victims’ families, including allocating land plots, incorporating them into job contracts and grades, and providing social care benefits and assistance, according to Al-Battat.

Ahmad Hashim, Deputy Director of the Dhi Qar Martyrs Foundation, affirmed the “legitimacy” of the families’ demands to be included under the Martyrs Foundation Law. “They submitted a request to us, which was referred to the Council of Ministers, and the council forwarded it to the Parliament,” Hashim stated. “The Parliament has read the law once and twice, and a third reading is upcoming. They will be included under the Dhi Qar Martyrs Foundation law.”

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