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close this bookICRC Activities in Rwanda: 1993 - 6 April 2000 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 230 p.)
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ICRC NEWS N° 19/11 May 1995

RWANDA

ICRC CARING FOR WOUNDED FROM KIBEHO

When truck-loads of wounded people started arriving in Butare following the tragic events of 22 April in Kibeho camp, urgent measures were needed to respond to the emergency. An ICRC surgical team was already working at the hospital run by Mcins sans frontis in the southern Rwandan town but the facilities had become overcrowded and no more patients could be admitted. The ICRC therefore arranged for two surgical theatres to be set up in a wing of the Butare University Hospital. Within 24 hours the first operations had been performed, while additional medical staff from Geneva and national Red Cross societies were en route to Rwanda.

Now, two weeks after the emergency, there are more than 130 patients in the ICRC wing of the hospital, and it will probably be another six weeks before the last patients can be discharged and the makeshift surgical theatres closed down. “We still have people arriving with machete and gunshot wounds inflicted at Kibeho”, said the ICRC medical coordinator in Rwanda, Christian Martin.

The ICRC medical team consists of a surgeon, a physiotherapist, an anaesthetist and 12 nurses. “Under normal circumstances we would have fewer ICRC nurses and more local staff,” explained Martin. “But patients from the camps for displaced people are not well accepted by the medical personnel at the local hospital, who prefer to let us treat the wounded”.

Although the ICRC team has been able to save patients’ limbs in most cases, many require several operations before they are able to leave the hospital. “It is incredible to see how quiet the victims are,” says ICRC nurse Hendrika van Beerendonk. “They do not cry even when they are in great pain. It is as if they have been through so much suffering and anguish already that they have no more tears left.”

Further information:
Jens Gustav Amlie, ICRC Geneva, Tel. ++ 41 22 730 21 68
Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Kigali, Tel. ++ 250 72 781