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Egypt: ICRC emergency medical assistance begins to arrive

04-02-2011 News Release 11/27

Geneva/Cairo (ICRC) – As violent clashes in Egypt continue and casualties mount, the first ICRC aircraft carrying emergency medical assistance has landed at Cairo airport.

The plane’s cargo, intended to support first-aid providers in their efforts to treat injured people, consists of enough first-aid supplies to treat up to 2,000 people with minor wounds and enough surgical items to treat up to 100 people with critical injuries. This shipment, and others to follow, will relieve pressure on contingency stocks in Cairo and other cities.

"Our priority is to help first-aid providers in their life-saving activities. We are planning to fly in more medical supplies in the coming days," said Eric Marclay, the ICRC's head of delegation ad interim in Cairo. "The aid will be channelled through the Egyptian Red Crescent Society and the Ministry of Health."

Patients undergoing treatment – and their families – are often in a state of shock and fear, and require considerable attention. "Working with patients is not simply a matter of providing physical treatment, but also involves substantial efforts to relieve psychological distress," said Dr Hassan Nasreddine, a senior ICRC medical specialist in Cairo.

According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, 900 people have been wounded and nine killed in the past 48 hours. "In some cases, medical personnel have been hindered from reaching them," said Mr Marclay.

"Health-care personnel, ambulances and the like must always be treated with special restraint, and so too must wounded people and others requiring emergency assistance," added Mr Marclay. "Furthermore, it is imperative that the authorities, the protesters and all those involved show respect for people's lives and dignity." Security forces and the army must adhere to international standards governing the use of force in their efforts to restore law and order. People arrested and detained must be treated in conformity with the law.

The ICRC has provided support enabling the Egyptian Red Crescent to open a temporary post in the international zone at Cairo Airport, where hundreds of people have been stranded within the past few days. The aim is to enable the passengers to contact their families by making free telephone calls available to them. The Egyptian Red Crescent is also manning a health post and distributing light meals.

The ICRC has been working in Egypt since the beginning of the Second World War, and has had a full-time presence in the country for much of this time.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Cairo, tel: +201 874 24 344
Mohamed Sultan, ICRC Cairo, tel: +20 1 05 05 33 10
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18