The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patients take over asylum as doctors flee

Baghdad, April 18 (Reuters): In post-Saddam Baghdad, the patients have taken over the asylum.

“The doctors have all gone. The nurses have all gone. It is just us, the patients, who are left,” Hagop Armen Ouzonin said at the al Rashad teaching hospital today.

The hospital, one of only two asylums in the Iraqi capital, was pillaged by looters last week and over half the 400 inmates walked out. Those left behind are in pitiful condition, although a local mosque has started delivering food and the Red Cross left two tanks of drinking water.

Ouzonin said looters descended on the asylum two days after US forces entered Baghdad. Staff tried to protect patients and hospital property but were overwhelmed by the size of the mob.

“There were hundreds of them. They took everything, even the clothes of some patients,” he said.

“Our workshops where we would spend the day are empty. We have nothing.”

The Red Cross said earlier this week some patients in the women’s facility had been raped by looters or other inmates, but Ouzonin said he knew nothing of such reports. “Really, look at the people. I don’t think anyone would rape them,” he said. “People were very scared and they fired guns even to scare us, but we were not harmed.”

A Reuters team was today warmly greeted by the patients many of whom seemed more sane than the mobs which descended on most government buildings in the capital in an orgy of looting and pillaging.

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