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Nepal - Helping medical facilities to cope

30-05-2002 News Release 02/22

In response to accounts of major fighting in the western district of Rolpa, the ICRC sent a three-member team to the area on 12 May to assess the situation of medical facilities and the needs of the civilian population.

In response to accounts of major fighting in the western district of Rolpa (some 300 km west of Kathmandu), known to be a stronghold of the armed Maoist opposition, the ICRC sent a three-member team to the area on 12 May to assess the situation of medical facilities and the needs of the civilian population. " We were very concerned about the effects of the fighting on the civilians caught in the crossfire " , said Jean-Jacques Bovay, head of the ICRC delegation in Kathmandu. " We had heard accounts of civilian victims of the fighting who had no access to medical treatment " , he added.

The team, which was made up of the head of delegation, a medical delegate and a translator, visited the districts of Banke, Dang, Pyuthan and Rolpa, and stopped in the towns of Nepalgunj, Gorahi and Pyuthan. They delivered first-aid kits containing dressing material, antiseptics and antibiotics to the district hospital in Pyuthan on 16 May. " The hospital is in a perfect location to provide treatment for all those caught up in the fighting in this area " , said Dr Peter Tarabula, the medical delegate. " In addition, it is accessible to civilians and has adequate staff. " The team also delivered surgical supplies to the Birendra Police Hospital in Nepalgunj before returning to Kathmandu on 17 May.

The ceasefire between the government of Nepal and the armed Maoist opposition broke down in November 2001. Since the renewed outbreak of hostilities, ICRC delegates have been dispatched all over Nepal to visit detainees, bring aid to victims of the fighting and explain the principles of humanitarian law. The ICRC works with both sides in the conflict in its capacity as an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose purpose is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance.