Saudi Arabia allocates funds to renovate Iraq’s burned down Ibn al-Khatib Hospital

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An Iraqi hospital set ablaze by an exploding oxygen cylinder in 2021 will be renovated using a grant from Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

The Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad will be renovated with a grant allocated through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), according to SPA.

A member of Iraqi security forces walks at Ibn Khatib hospital after a fire caused by an oxygen tank explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, April 25, 2021. (Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani)
A member of Iraqi security forces walks at Ibn Khatib hospital after a fire caused by an oxygen tank explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, April 25, 2021. (Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani)

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The grant was reportedly offered upon the directives of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

It came after the SFD CEO Sultan al-Marshad signed an MoU with the Ambassador of Iraq to Saudi Arabia Dr. Abdul al-Janabi, at the SFD headquarters in Riyadh.

“This MoU continues the close and exceptional historical relations between the two brotherly nations, as the grant comes to support Iraq and Iraqis in overcoming the fire incident. It strengthens and enhances constructive development cooperation between the two nations and promotes the development and prosperity of Iraq's social structure,” SPA reported.

During the meeting, Ambassador al-Janabi reportedly “praised the critical role” that the Kingdom plays in supporting the health sector and the infrastructure in Iraq.

He is said to have highlighted the importance of renovating the destroyed hospital and the positive impact it will have on the livelihood of many Iraqis, importantly their access to essential health services.

SFD CEO al-Marshad affirmed that the MoU “reflects the keen interest of the Kingdom to support Iraq, strengthen development relations, and address the challenges that face the infrastructure and the health sector in Iraq through financing projects that contribute to the social and economic development of Iraq,” according to the SPA report.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had announced the allocation of $1.5 billion of soft loans through SFD to support development in Iraq.

Two development projects amounting to more than $40 million have already been signed to finance two projects in the health and agriculture sectors, including the establishment of al-Saqlawiya Hospital in al-Anbar and the establishment of grain silos in Diwaniya, SPA reported.

“The supported projects aim to achieve food security and self-sufficiency for Iraq as well as enhance, improve, and support basic healthcare services for the people of Iraq,” the report said.

The hospital fire in 2021 was described by one witness to the Associated Press as “volcanoes of fire.”

It reportedly swept through the intensive care unit of the hospital, which tends exclusively to COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms. The blaze injured 110 people.

It supposedly took firefighters and civil defense teams nearly a day to put out the flames.

Years of sanctions and war have crippled the country’s health sector, and the COVID-19 pandemic tested the limits of health facilities.

The deadly fire was only the latest chapter in Iraq’s poor record for public safety, the Associated Press reported then.

With the Associated Press

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