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2,400 Red Cross volunteers start rescue, relief work in Lebanon
18 July 2006

Youth volunteers are busy sorting humanitarian assistance in the Lebanese Red Cross centres for distribution to the most vulnerable. (Courtesy: IFRC)Youth volunteers are busy sorting humanitarian assistance in the Lebanese Red Cross centres for distribution to the most vulnerable. (Courtesy: IFRC)
In response to the hostilities in Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) has mobilized 2,400 emergency rescue and first aid volunteers, as well as some 200 ambulances to evacuate and provide emergency relief to people wounded or displaced by the bombings. It is also transporting bodies to centres, for identification purposes. LRC medical staff have treated hundreds of wounded over the past four days.

In addition, the nine Lebanese Red Cross blood centres, open 24 hours a day, are supplying blood to hospitals. The LRC mobile clinics, staffed by medics and nurses, are visiting centres and schools where thousands of people are gathering for protection. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, at least 700,000 people have been displaced by the hostilities and the number is rising every day.

Some 400 youth volunteers are also busy sorting humanitarian assistance in LRC centres for distribution to the most vulnerable. The Lebanese Red Cross first aid service is in dire need of protective equipment for their volunteers, bulletproof helmets and vests in particular. Body bags are also needed.

The distribution of emergency medical and other needs is being coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which, under its mandate, has also issued several calls to respect International Humanitarian Law. The ICRC is also supporting fuel and repair costs for the LRC ambulance fleet and has sent in a convoy carrying medicines, food and hygiene articles. Lebanese hospitals are functioning thanks to emergency stocks, but small dispensaries and clinics in the south of the country are beginning to run out of medicines.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are ready to send in assistance and funds, as required.

As national provider of ambulance and paramedical services, the Lebanese Red Cross covers approximately 80% of all ambulance missions in the country, through a network of 42 stations and more than 2,200 volunteers.

In addition it has a network of 24 clinics, 24 dispensaries, eight mobile clinics, nine blood banks and some 1,800 youth volunteers.

For its part, the Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA) is on alert in 10 of its 11 regions, including its reserve units. It has treated some 150 injured people as well as 200 patients suffering from acute stress, and evacuated bodies.

The MDA has moved half its blood service operations as well as its regional dispatch centres into shelters. A nationwide blood donation campaign is underway and hospitals and community health care systems are also on high alert.