ISRAELI MEDICAL AID TO RWANDAN REFUGEES
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry)
UPDATE – AUGUST 8, 1994
Since operation Interns for Hope began about two weeks ago, it has received positive media reactions throughout the world and has been priase by many governments. The establishment of the field hospital served as an example for other countries providing assistance to the Rwandan refugees in Zaire.
Official Zaire visitors to date include the Prime Minister, the Minister for Social Affairs and the Chief-of-Staff, as well as representatives of international organizations, among them the WHO representative, who expressed a desire to cooperate with Israel. The High Commissioner for Refugees who visited the area praised the work and efficiency of the Israeli delegation. The hospital has also been visited by various non-governmental aid agencies operating in the area.
In coordination with the UNHCR and the Zaire government, it was agreed that the IDF hospital would treat Rwandan refugees and not residents of Zaire (who are referred to the Zaire hospital in Goma) or Rwandan military personnel. This notwithstanding, every person who comes to the hospital receives the necessary treatment.
In the course of the first 12 days in Goma, the IDF team received 1215 patients at the hospital emergency room, of whom 723 were hospitalized. Fifty-five persons died, of which seven were pronounced dead on arrival. Sixteen operations and surgical procedures were performed, as well as several births.
The incidence of cholera is gradually declining. There is a growing number of cases of severe dysentery, pneumonia and meningitis. The hospital has been supplied with the appropriate medicines from Israel.
In light of the large number of orthopedic operations, the relief team has been augmented with an additional orthopedic doctor and the necessary surgical equipment.
The State of Israel donated to UNICEF 80,000 measles vaccinations to help immunize the many children in the refugee camps.
Following the visit of Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid to the UNICEF camp located near the IDF hospital, the hospital ‘adopted’ the orphans there. It was agreed that children requiring medical treatment would be brought to the IDF hospital and would return to the UNICEF camp following treatment. When the IDF field hospital was first opened, the UNICEF staff had requested treatment of a group of ten orphans, one of whom was in critical condition. Following treatment in the hospital, his condition improved markedly. All the children were later returned to the UNICEF camp.
In addition to the field hospital, an ambulatory center comprising two doctors and two medics was opened in the Katindo camp. This center was closed at the end of the week, after all the refugees in Goma and its environs were transferred to the large camps located outside the city.
Cooperation with Other Organizations
The Israeli operation was conducted in full coordination with UNHCR, both logistically and medically, through its Geneva offices.
Cooperation between the IDF mission and the various organizations in Goma has found expression in a variety of ways:
The Dutch government recently sent a medical team which was coopted to the IDF team. An Israeli doctor participated in an operation in the French army hospital, and a French surgeon subsequently took part in an oepration carried out in the Israeli hospital. All those involved in medical aid cooperated in transferring the sick and injured from the refugee camps to the hospitals, in an organized manner. A Swiss pilot has volunteered to fly emergency cases to the Israeli hospital by helicopter, though this has not yet been necessary.
The Second Team
On Wednesday, August 3, an air force plane left Israel carrying, in addition to 25 tons of supplies, additional medics and the relief medical team. This team, numbering 86 persons, will remain in Goma for two weeks.
Magen David Adom (the Israeli first aid organization), in cooperation with the Israeli government, established a fund for collecting donations in Israel. In addition, the UNICEF branch in Israel began a donation campaign for children. Money collected will be transferred to the UNICEF central office. In addition, Jewish communities throughout the world have expressed interest in donating money and articles for the refugees. Means of transferring these donations are currently being studied.