Red Cross seeks drugs, vaccines, blood and body bags for Gaza

ICRC says main problem for Gaza civilians is safe passage for ambulances to hospitals within the Strip.

January 5, 2009 20:56
2 minute read.
red cross in gaza ap 298

Red Cross gaza 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

The International Committee for the Red Cross said Monday that the main problem for Gaza civilians is safe passage for Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances to hospitals within Gaza, as well as getting in fresh blood supplies and tetanus vaccine and enabling local technicians to fix power lines. All these are difficult due to traffic tie-ups resulting from the continued fighting and Israeli air strikes, said Yael Segev-Eytan, a spokesman of the ICRC in Tel Aviv. Coordination is carried out with the Israeli authorities and Palestinian factions to make sure that PRCS workers are not caught in the middle of fighting or shelling. However, in some cases it takes hours before the ambulances can reach the wounded. She quoted Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC office in Gaza, as saying that "some wounded simply die while waiting for an ambulance." The ICRC also notes it has received urgent requests from Gaza for strong painkillers, anesthetics, body bags and sheets to wrap dead bodies. Gaza hospitals "are now completely dependent on generators for electricity. Many of these generators are unreliable due to lack of maintenance and because of the Israeli restrictions on the import of spare parts. The generators are running around the clock, which means that some of them may break down at any moment, making it impossible to use lifesaving medical equipment," the ICRC said. The ICRC complained that its staffers had difficulty moving around to assess humanitarian needs and that the ground attack has forced numerous Gazans to flee their homes. In addition, it is difficult for residents to cope with the cold, especially at night. "We are seriously concerned about the reports we are receiving with regard to civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC's head of delegation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. "The safety of civilians is our primary concern in this conflict and we are calling on all parties to spare the lives of all those who are not directly participating in hostilities. The ICRC underlines that the medical mission such as hospitals, medical staff and ambulances, must be respected at all times. Under international humanitarian law, this also means that ambulances must have access to all areas in order to evacuate the wounded," Wettach added. In just two sentences in its statement, the ICRC noted: "At the same time, rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel continued... The Magen David Adom is continuing to provide medical services in southern Israel to people affected by the rockets launched from Gaza."

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