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East Timor: The ICRC hands over Dili National Hospital to UNTAET

29-06-2001 News Release


 Dili. Main entrance of the general hospital run by the ICRC.  

ICRC/Michel Kleiner - 10/1999

Ref : TP-N-00041-16




 Dili, General hospital. ICRC nurse in the emergency room.  

CICR/Boris Heger - 27/03/2000

Ref: TP-N-00075-32


 The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today handed over the responsibility for and management of Dili National Hospital, formerly known as Dili General Hospital, to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

The ICRC has been working in East Timor since 1979. In the aftermath of the violence that rocked the territory following the referendum of 30 August 1999, and with the consent of the Indonesian government, the Conselho Nacional Resistencia Timorense, the Catholic Church and, later, the International Force for East Timor and UNTAET, the organization undertook management of the hospital in September 1999. While the hospital was structurally sound, much of the equipment and medical supplies were either missing or damaged. There were no doctors. When the ICRC took over the running of the hospital there were nine East Timorese nurses looking after 37 patients.

Since then, the 226-bed facility has been refurbished and re-equipped. With an East Timorese staff of 315 and at times up to 45 ICRC expatriate personnel, it has been operating at nearly full capacity. More than 143,000 patients have been treated, over 11,000 of them inpatients. Close to 4,000 surgical operations have been performed and some 3,000 babies delivered. Dili National Hospital has gained the trust of the population and is today East Timor's main referral facility.

In March 2000, when it was clear that East Timor was entering a post-conflict and development phase, Mr. Paul Grossrieder, Director General of the ICRC, stated ICRC’s in tent to end its responsibility for and management of the hospital at latest on 30 June 2001. Since then, ICRC staff have worked hard to train and build the skills of their East Timorese counterparts. A growing degree of responsibility has been assumed by local staff, and the ICRC expatriate specialists are currently working only in those fields where East Timorese specialists are not yet available or fully independent.

Less than two years ago East Timor was devastated and its people in dire need. The ICRC is deeply grateful to the donors who generously contributed to this project, as well as to the National Red Cross Societies of Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their help was invaluable. Mention should also be made of the logistics bases in Surabaya and Darwin set up in September 1999 which were fundamental to the ICRC's success in supplying the hospital. The organization is also grateful to Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, Mr Xanana Gusmao, Bishop Carlos Belo, Dr Rui Araujo and Dr Jim Tulloch for their excellent cooperation and for their participation in the hand-over process. Above all, the ICRC takes this opportunity to pay tribute to the hard work and the unwavering commitment of the hospital staff that made this success possible. Their efforts have helped save hundreds of lives, and responsibility for running the Dili National Hospital is now deservedly in their hands.