Health workers blocked in Egypt turmoil: ICRC

4th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The international Red Cross said on Friday that health workers had been hindered from reaching people wounded in unrest in Egypt, as it flew in emergency medical supplies to treat a surge in casualties.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also reported that hundreds of passengers have been stranded in the international zone of Cairo airport, where the Red Crescent was offering them meals and free telephone calls.

In a statement, the ICRC quoted the Egyptian health ministry as saying that nine people had been killed and 900 wounded in the past 48 hours.

"In some cases, medical personnel have been hindered from reaching them," the ICRC's interim head in Cairo, Eric Marclay, said as "violent clashes continue and casualties mount."

"Health-care personnel, ambulances and the like must always be treated with special restraint, and so too must wounded people and others requiring emergency assistance," he added.

"Furthermore, it is imperative that the authorities, the protesters and all those involved show respect for people's lives and dignity."

The first batch of supplies, which is sufficient to treat up to 2,000 people, will be channeled through the Egyptian Red Crescent Society and the Ministry of Health to relieve pressure on stocks in Cairo and other cities.

"Our priority is to help first-aid providers in their life-saving activities. We are planning to fly in more medical supplies in the coming days," said Marclay.

Egyptian protesters massed Friday for sweeping "departure day" demonstrations to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit, after bloody clashes erupted in recent days between pro and anti Mubarak supporters.

© 2011 AFP

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