Red Cross and Red Crescent mobilizes help for Palestinian population

Published: 23 April 2002 0:00 CET

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world have mobilized assistance, in the form of goods and delegates, to bring essential help to the Palestinian population. Some examples include a Norwegian Red Cross team, made up of a doctor, two deminers and two construction experts, who were searching for survivors, as well as examining and securing buildings, deciding which ones should be pulled down and which can be secured, to be re-built later.

"Materials, such as beams, are being provided either by the local community, or by the UN", explains Ola Skuterud, Federation representative in Ramallah. "Helping them are local people and local volunteers." UN teams have now taken over the search through rubble in Jenin camp.

Joint Palestine Red Crescent and ICRC teams continue to provide essential food, water and medical supplies to people in need throughout the West Bank. They report that milk for babies and children is urgently needed.

Curfews and severe restrictions on the movement of ambulances, especially outside urban areas continue to hamper the delivery of aid to the Palestinian population. Palestine Red Crescent branches are still flooded with requests for food and medicines due to shortages. Because it can only respond to approximately 25% of calls for help, the Palestine Red Crescent has set up a medical "hotline", where doctors give medical advice over the phone.

Many National Societies have also sent assessment missions into the area, in order to determine the type of assistance most needed. And large amounts of aid from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are already on their way into the Occupied and Autonomous Territories, in answer to appeals for assistance from the Palestine Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC is coordinating Red Cross and Red Crescent relief operations in the Occupied and Autonomous Territories.

With many ambulances and other vehicles destroyed recently, National Societies have pledged to replace them - the Norwegian Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross and United Arab Emirates Red Crescent are among them. Four ambulances as well as equipment for another 18 were donated in March by the Swedish and Norwegian Red Cross Societies.

Two four-wheel-drive vehicles to support emergency medical support and primary health care operations will be sent by Norwegian Red Cross, as well as oxygen concentrators for clinics and field health posts.

Extra assistance also includes such items as a forklift for warehouse operations, funded by the ICRC, a telecommunications vehicle, donated by the Turkish Red Crescent, as well as other relief items.

With food in very short supply, hundreds of tonnes of food assistance are on the way, donated by Red Crescent Societies from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey, among others. These National Societies have also included medical supplies, medicines, clothes and blankets in these emergency shipments.

"This outpouring of assistance from National Societies around the world attests to Movement solidarity in this critical situation", noted Ali Said Ali, head of the Federation's Middle East Department in Geneva.

Two particularly important shipments come from the Bahrein Red Crescent, with 16 trucks on the way, as well as from the Saudi Red Crescent, which sent a fleet of 94 trucks of rice, biscuits, milk, tea, oil, flour, noodles, juices, and infant formula into Jordan. They are currently negotiating access and delivery to the West Bank.