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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
15 March 2003

Health Inforum News
Volume 2, No.23, 15 March 2003
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
International, Israeli, Palestinian health workers call on Israeli Government to guarantee health workers protection
In an unprecedented call for protection, 20 international, Israeli and Palestinian aid agencies1 published on 15 March 2003 a Media Release to call upon the Government of Israel to ensure that its military respects the neutrality of all health personnel, services and property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) including east Jerusalem. Since the start of the current conflict in September 2000, 25 Palestinian health workers, including ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses and medical volunteers, have been killed and 419 have been injured.

As a signatory to the 4th Geneva Convention, the Government of Israel has an internationally recognized obligation to ensure protected and unhindered access for all health workers operating in the oPt to enable them to continue providing much-needed emergency and essential medical services to the Palestinian population.

The conditions which health workers have been forced to work under since September 2000 - to provide care to the sick and injured in the oPt - are unacceptable. Israeli military attacks on health workers are on the increase. Numerous appeals and protests to the Israeli authorities at the highest levels over the past two years have come to nothing. What is even more disturbing is the lack of accountability within the Israeli military towards such actions. To date, no soldier has been tried when medical personnel have been killed or injured.

To Read the Media Release refer to Health Inforum Web Portal: www.healthinforum.org

For further Information Please contact: Dr Ronald Quist, World Health Organization/Health Inforum, +972 (0)2 540 0595 (w), +972 (0)57 266 905 (m), who@012.net.il , healthinforum@undp.org .

Footnote:

1 *This statement is attributable to the following organisations: AM Qattan Foundation; the European Commission; the Friends of East Jerusalem Hospitals; the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute; the Italian Cooperation; M├ędecins du Monde - France; M├ędecins du Monde - Greece,"Medecins sans Frontieres -Greece; Medical Aid for Palestinians - UK; MERLIN - UK; the Palestine Red Crescent Society; Physicians for Human Rights - Israel; Solidaridad International; the Union of Health Work Committees, the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees; the United Nations Children's Fund; the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; the United Nations Population Fund; The Welfare Association; and the World Health Organisation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):

CIVILIANS MUST BE SPARED UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

Tel Aviv, 13 March 2003 (ICRC). The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is alarmed and appalled by the increasing number of civilians being killed or injured during attacks and military operations in Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories over the past weeks.

The recent military operations, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the bomb attack in Haifa and other acts of violence claimed lives and inflicted immense suffering on Palestinian and Israeli civilians. Even children, women and elderly people were not spared.

Each and every act of violence means deep suffering and despairs for numerous individuals.

Attacks against civilians, indiscriminate attacks as well as acts of reprisal against civilians and their property are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law. This body of rules requires an absolute distinction between the civilian population and military targets. During the conduct of military operations, all feasible precautions and measures must be taken in order to protect civilians and their property. Medical personnel, vehicles and facilities must be respected and allowed to fulfill their humanitarian mission.

The ICRC reiterates its urgent call for the protection of Palestinian and Israeli civilians and insists that all those concerned respect and ensure respect for the rules and principles of international humanitarian law under all circumstances.

Update on Emergency Medical Assistance

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USAID's Health & Humanitarian Assistance Program funded the purchase and delivery of $68,000 worth of essential medicines to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah this week. It also supported the purchase and delivery of 10 medical kits, with a total value of $ 7,000, to NGO clinics throughout the West Bank.

Additionally, the Bethlehem Arab Rehabilitation Society received a shipment of wheelchairs and medical disposables valued at $8,400, while the El-Wafa Rehabilitation Center received $6,000 of medical equipment.

These shipments are part of an ongoing program of emergency medical assistance funded by USAID and implemented by CARE International. Responding to urgent emergency medical care requests from Ministry of Health hospitals and clinics, as well as health facilities run by NGOs, weekly deliveries are made to health care facilities throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

For more information please contact Press Office at: phone: +972 2 240 6515/6/7
E-mail: pressoffice@palestinercs.org
Or visit PRCS website: www.palestinercs.org

PRCS Health Incidents Report (March 01-14, 2003)



Date of incident
Time
The Case is:
Location
Reason
Case been transported by:
Type of service was needed
Effects following the delay
March 4
14:00
Detained PRCS ambulance for 1:30 hr Nablus, Old CityNo reason
PRCS
Pick up patient & distribute food & medicine
March 3
19:10
Detained PRCS ambulance for 25 min forward and 30 min in its way back on same checkpoint combined with threatening.Nablus, Ksarat checkpoint Closing the checkpoint
PRCS
Pick up patient from Rafidia to tell villageCoordination with ICRC
March 2
12:00
Detained PRCS ambulance for 1:30 hrNablus, Youreen intersection No reason
PRCS
Deliver patients Coordination with ICRC
March 1
08:15
Detained PRCS ambulance for 40 min including questioning the patient and insulting the teamNablus, Qusin checkpointNo reason
PRCS
Deliver a patient to a hospital
March 6
10:00
Detained PRCS ambulance for 1:30 min _ as soldiers brought Israeli doctor to verify the serious case patient that he is really injuredTubas, Shafi Shamron checkpointSoldiers brought Israeli doctors to verify that patient is really injured
PRCS
Deliver patient to Rafidia hospital
March 4
17:00
Detained PRCS ambulance for 35 min by a tank including questioning the ambulance crew TulkaremNo reason
PRCS
Pick up a gunshot injured
PRCS Health Incidents Report (March 01-14, 2003)... Continue



Date of incident
eTime
:The Case is:
Location
Reason
Case been transported by:
Type of service was needed
Effects
following the
delay
March 5
09:30
Detained PRCS ambulance, searching the crew, sends patient back. Jenin entrance Closing Jenin area
PRCS
Deliver 3 patients to hospitalPatients were not allowed to reach the hospital.
March 2
10:00
Detained PRCS ambulance for 1:30 hr, soldiers took ambulance key Jenin Ambulance didn't ask permission.
PRCS
Deliver patient to Ramallah
March 5
04:30
Detained for 30min, including soldiers accompany the crew to check the patient case. Qalqilia, Nablus streetTo verify that patient is sick
PRCS
Pick up a sick child
March 1-6
Damaging 2 PRCS ambulances and injured 4 medics of them during shelling in Gaza including shattering the PRCS clinic windowsGaza, Jabalya Refugee CampShelling on Gaza strip
PRCS
2 damaged ambulances + 4 medics injured
March 2
08:30
10 bullets hit a PRCS ambulance that was shot directlyGaza,
Khan Younis
No reason
PRCS
Glass, wheels & body of the ambulance were punctured
March 12
13:30
Detained PRCS ambulance for 45minNablus, Qusin checkpointNo reason
PRCS
Transferring a patient to hospital
March 12
16:15
Detained PRCS ambulance for 2 hrsNablus, tell village, Sarra checkpointArea was closed
PRCS
Pick up a patient
March 11
18:15
Detained PRCS ambulance for 30 min, including a fine for the seatbelt although they were on.Nablus, Za'atara checkpoint No Reason
PRCS
Transferring patient3 staff, each had a fine

PRCS Health Incidents Report (March 01-14, 2003)... Continue

Date of incident
Time
The Case is:
Location
Reason
Case been transported by:
Type of service was needed
yEffects
following the
delay
March 10
06:50
PRCS ambulance crew were ordered to take off their cloths and detained for 1:10 hrNablus, Huwwara checkpointNo reason
PRCS
Back to station
March 13
18:15
Detained PRCS ambulance for 1:30 hr, including taking the patient ID and blindfolded himTulkaremNo reason
PRCS
Deliver a kidney patientChanging the road.
March 13
19:15
Forbid ambulance to enter, forbid crew to use their radios, searching the car, confiscating crew Ids for 30 min. then to leave backTubas, Tamoun checkpointNo reason
PRCS
Pick up injured Coordination with RC and having access next day, when crew found 1 injured & 5 dead
March 8
01:28
Detained PRCS ambulance for 12min, by the time patient arrived the hospital, she was dead. Qalqilia, DCO checkpointPunishment as ambulance approached the checkpoint with lights flashing
PRCS
Pick up severe pulmonary distress patientThe patient died.
March 12
17:30
Detained PRCS ambulance for 2:30 hrs Hebron, entrance checkpointNo reason
PRCS
Back to station Coordination with ICRC
March 9
18:13
A tank fired a shell toward PRCS ambulance, and changing the roadGaza, Rafah, Block JShelling on Gaza
PRCS
Pick up injured
March 9
19:36
Soldiers fired toward PRCS ambulance although flashing light was on. Gaza, Rafah, Tell as sultan No reason
PRCS
For more information, please contact Press Office at: phone: +972 2 240 6515/6/7
E-mail: pressoffice@palestinercs.org
Or visit PRCS website: www.palestinercs.org

World Health Organization issues emergency travel advisory

15 March 2003 -- During the past week, WHO has received reports of more than 150 new suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an atypical pneumonia for which cause has not yet been determined. Reports to date have been received from Canada, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Early today, an ill passenger and companions who traveled from New York, United States, and who landed in Frankfurt, Germany were removed from their flight and taken to hospital isolation.

Chemical Biological Awareness pamphlet

Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) published an English translation of a Chemical Biological Awareness pamphlet published in Arabic recently, as part of an overall PRCS information and dissemination program.

The purpose of this brochure is to provide the professional sector including health providers, academic institutions and governmental and non governmental agencies with scientific and accurate information about major chemical and biological agents, their effects on the body and protective measures. PRCS hope that this pamphlet dispels the misinformation regarding this issue that is currently in media.

For more Information, visit the PRCS web: www.palestinercs.org

ICRC News

Humanitarian Assistance

ICRC relief programs are limited in time. They strive to fulfill urgent humanitarian needs, keeping in mind that the primary responsibility for ensuring access to basic essential goods and medical care rests with the occupying power.

Relief

In the framework of the Urban Voucher Program, 20,000 destitute families in the urban centers of the West Bank receive six-weekly vouchers to be redeemed for essential food and household items. This time, 2,875 beneficiaries in Bethlehem received their vouchers.

Under the Rural Relief Program, which the ICRC conducts in coordination with the UN's World Food Program, 1,620 families in 18 villages of Jenin, Tulkarem and Ramallah districts received 162 Mt. of flour, 80 Mt. of rice, 16 Mt. of sugar and 27 Mt. of pulses, as well as 16,100 liters of vegetable oil.

In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed 657 food parcels as assistance to vulnerable families particularly affected by long curfews.

Assistance following House Destruction

55 affected families in Nablus and five others in Hebron received relief kits following house destruction. Under the same program, assistance was given to 65 families in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

Preventive Action

In Gaza, the ICRC conducted a three-days workshop on international humanitarian law, the ICRC and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for 18 senior staff members of the local TV channels.

Another presentation on the activities and the mandate of the ICRC was given to 24 cadets and three officers of the Israeli Civil Administration.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please feel free to contact us for information at:

Health Inforum, c/o the Italian Cooperation
Sheik Jarrah, East Jerusalem
Tel: 02 532 7447
Fax: 02 532 2904
Email: healthinforum@undp.org
www.healthinforum.org



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