One step forward for new hospital in Jordan’s Camp Azraq

Published: 23 August 2013 12:42 CET

There were bright smiles all around at the IFRC's office in Amman. The reason? Airbus A340-600 test flight had landed that afternoon at Jordan's Queen Alia Airport.

The plane was carrying 40 tonnes of medical equipment, medicines and other supplies for the emergency response unit (ERU) hospital that will serve a new refugee camp for Syrians in Azraq, some 100 kilometres east of Amman in Jordan.

The hospital will be run by a consortium of partner National Societies, including the Finnish, Norwegian, Canadian and German Red Cross, under the umbrella of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“Now, we have most of the materials we need to build a hospital,”  said Consortium manager Henna Korte at the airport in Amman after the plane had landed.

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.

“The next step will be to get the hospital area at the camp site ready for the tents. These will arrive in the next few days. In the beginning, the hospital will operate in tents, but later, in the autumn, it will have more permanent constructions,” added Henna Korte.

The flight, worth 200,000 euros, was free of charge through a global agreement between the IFRC and Airbus Foundation. It was loaded in Helsinki by the Finnish Red Cross, with the help of Finnair. Also onboard were aid workers from the Finnish Red Cross and the IFRC.

“One of the challenges we face is that the world is forgetting the difficult situation in Syria, but we will not. We must plan carefully how to use our resources in the most efficient and economical ways,” said Stephen McAndrew, the IFRC’s head of emergency operations in Jordan.

“We are expecting a very busy year, since nobody can predict how the situation is going to develop in Syria. We will work in challenging conditions, but this is also what we do best,” added McAndrew.

The IFRC has committed to run the hospital at least for a year.