4 February 2011
© InfoAs violent clashes in Egypt continue and casualties mount, the first Red Cross aircraft carrying emergency medical assistance has landed at Cairo airport.
The cargo 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 aiders in their life-saving activities. We are planning to fly in more medical supplies in the coming days," said Eric Marclay, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head of delegation in Cairo. "The aid will be channelled through the Egyptian Red Crescent Society and the Ministry of Health."
Shock and fear
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.
On 2 February, the British Red Cross deployed a two-member psycho-social support team to Cairo to help Britons wishing to return to the UK.
Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning, said: "Our team will be there to help and advise people trying to make their way home, and to offer them emotional support too. Sometimes things like not being able to pass messages to family back home or deal with practicalities can be distressing in a situation like this, and that is the kind of assistance our teams can give.”
Access to the wounded
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 Eric. "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.
With support from the ICRC, the Egyptian Red Crescent has opened 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.
More about our team in Egypt