Emergency field hospital in a box arrives in Jordan's capital

تم النشر: 26 أغسطس 2013 15:30 CET

By Leena Reikko

All the materials for the Red Cross Red Crescent emergency response unit (ERU) hospital are now customs cleared and stored in Amman, Jordan's capital. Almost 400 cubic metres of hospital equipment is waiting to be moved to the site of the new Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.

The sight in the warehouse is amazing: long lines of pallets, 12 metres high from floor to ceiling, full of different kinds of boxes. These boxes contain an entire referral hospital.

“Incredible. We have never had a hospital in our warehouse,” says the warehouse operations manager Zaid Souqi, looking at the long line of boxes.

The process of getting two big shipments of equipment delivered within a very tight deadline required a lot of cooperation with the Jordan National Red Crescent Society and the local authorities.

“Colleagues from the Jordan National Red Crescent Society and the IFRC have been helping all the way from the airport to the customs and applications for different permits. With their help, the downloading was extremely quick,” says logistics delegate Kai Kettunen from the Finnish Red Cross.

“Also, the authorities have been very flexible. For example, we got all the permissions in a couple of days, when it usually takes more than a week. And the minister of foreign affairs signed the tax exemption letter for all the cargo.”

The next step is to start moving the material to the refugee camp in Azraq, some 100 kilometres east of Amman. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has offered their trucks to transport the goods.

The first technical ERU team is already on site preparing the hospital ground in Azraq for the construction.

“We are mapping the area and marking the places for different hospital units,” says technical delegate Gerard Murphy from the Norwegian Red Cross.

Canadian, Finnish, German and Norwegian Red Cross Societies have formed a consortium to build and run the hospital under the umbrella of the IFRC.

Both the camp and the hospital will be operational in the coming weeks. Once fully functional, the hospital will serve as a secondary-level hospital providing surgery, and mother and child care, initially for 55,000 refugees. If needed, the camp can be expanded to house up to 130,000 refugees, and the capacity of the hospital can also match that of the camp.