Iraqi deputy health minister kidnapped

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Deputy to the Iraq Health Minister, Ammar al-Saffar, who lives with his sister in Baghdad's Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiya, was kidnapped today.

It is reported that six uniformed men and others wearing suits, arrived at Mr Saffer’s home in police cars and pickup trucks and took him off.

As one of the deputies to the Health Minister, Mr Saffer called earlier this year for as much as $8 Billion to restore Iraq’s health services.

On August 9, 2006, Mr Saffar discussed the health situation in Iraq with the BBC. He said that the insurgents were killing doctors and trying to create a brain drain. 100 doctors had been killed “because they were trying to help people and because they were Shia”. He said that there are about 18,000 doctors in Iraq but many have left, while others practice at home rather than at hospitals where they could be better protected. Under Saddam they were not permitted to leave, now there is no restriction. But now there are cash incentives: under Saddam they earned $2-3 a month, now they can earn up to $500 a month. On security, he said that the people blamed the US for the violence because, although they were responsible for security, they left the borders poorly guarded.

Mr Saffer survived an assassination attempt in June, 2004 when he was fired upon as he left his home. He was uninjured.

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