Hospital Guards, More than Protectors

Hospital Guards, More than Protectors

Produced by Nabeel Kamal

BAGHDAD, IRAQ– The Facility Protection Service has been the center of much controversy in recent years. We have profiled the bizarre security agency previously on Alive in Baghdad, interviewing a Sunni FPS guard who works in Adhamiya. Although at least some of the accusations against various individuals and sections of the Facilities Protection Service are no doubt true, they are not the whole story.

The Facility Protection Service was created in order to fulfill the lack of security after the fall of Baghdad. Different important or historical buildings, institutions and government departments were each given money to hire their own FPS contingent. In 2006, in an effort to curb corruption, the FPS was brought under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, in an effort to further organize it and root out insurgent and criminal elements. However, in early 2007 the US Military arrested the Deputy Health Minister and accused him of utilizing their FPS personnel in sectarian attacks.

Lieutenant Colonel Mua’ayad, who is in charge of protecting the Ibn Al-Nafees Hospital in the Karrada neighborhood, took Alive in Baghdad inside the work of his men protecting the hospital. They are more than just security guards. Although there are many men involved in defending the hospital, who serve in various positions from searching visitors to defending the front gates of the hospital, this is not all they do. Mua’ayad and the others we spoke with described how they are often called upon to support the short-handed medical staff. In times of crisis the guards find themselves directing traffic outside the hospital, carrying injured patients to operating and waiting rooms, sometimes they are even given work preparing medicines or assisting in a “medical orderly” capacity.

The potential for success of efforts to reform Iraq’s security forces remains to be seen. But with violence continuing, and the steady emigration of medical professionals out of Iraq, places like the Ibn Al-Nafees Hospital continue to require flexible security forces who are willing and able to meet the disparate needs of medical facilities in Iraq.

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In remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the United States war against Iraq, we are republishing as much of Alive in Baghdad's original content as possible here on Alive-in/. Each story has been given its original date so that these posts don't overwhelm our current stories, and tagged as relevant.