Better security lures 800 doctors back to Iraq

  • World
  • Thursday, 20 Nov 2008

MYT 12:02:37 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Improvements in security have persuaded 800 doctors to return to Iraq in 2008, a senior health official said on Thursday.

Doctors fled in their thousands during the explosion of violence between majority Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs in the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

A U.S. military doctor examines the eyes of a boy during a medical mission in Mussayab, 60 km south of Baghdad, November 19, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Once the elite of Iraqi society, medical specialists became a target for insurgents, militias and kidnappers in search of rich ransoms.

"Many of them, even those who left to England, have returned here. I do not think they returned for financial reasons," the General Director of Public Health at the Health Ministry, Ihsan Jaafar, told Reuters.

"The security situation was their sole concern, without the improved security situation they would not have return in this number," he added.

Nearly 200 doctors have been killed in the past five years, but the security situation has much improved in the last year and a half. According to Iraqi government statistics, October saw the fewest monthly deaths from violence since the invasion.

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