Surplus medical aid in Indonesia, uprooted Israelis camp on the beach, Palestinian refugees welcome displaced Lebanese...
Of all the many types of humanitarian intervention, medical assistance would seem to be the least problematic. Disasters occur, people are injured, local access to health care is compromised, foreign doctors and nurses arrive, people are treated, lives are saved.
End of story.
Yet a long-standing and persistent concern, and one that receives little attention, is that all too often there are just too many of them. The recent earthquake in Java is a case in point.
Doctors and nurses arrived by the plane-load, despite Indonesian pleas for medical supplies, not personnel. Journalists had a field day with stories of overwhelmed hospitals, yet the backlog of patients was in fact well under control within a fortnight of the disaster.
"It seems we didn't learn from previous disasters," Murdani Abdullah of the Indonesian Society of Internists told Friday's Jakarta Post.
"Every time a disaster hits a region, government officials and relief agency volunteers tend to cram into one place, doing the same thing without coordination, making medical relief programmes look messy," he was quoted as saying.
In private, some foreign medical personnel deployed in Java admitted they were clearly surplus to requirements.
"It's a persistent problem," says John Cosgrave, Evaluation Advisor and Coordinator of the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC). "Aid agencies want to show that they have medical teams on the ground, but there is no feedback on their performance to the donating public."
Following the tsunami, even the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) complained of an oversupply of foreign doctors, almost none of whom spoke the language or understood local medical protocols.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that Indonesia is also struggling to deal with hundreds of tonnes of expired, damaged or inappropriate medicine donated after recent disasters.
About 100 tonnes of useless drugs donated after an earthquake last year off Nias island in western Indonesia have been incinerated this week, the report said. Medical authorities were lumbered with some 600 tonnes of unwanted pharmaceuticals after the tsunami, it adds, and a further 50 tonnes are also set to be destroyed following the Java earthquake.
According to Cosgrave, tsunami donations to Indonesia and Sri Lanka included silicone breast implants and Viagra.
Someone, somewhere is not thinking things through.
Raving to forget the rockets
The media is full of stories about Lebanese families fleeing the Israeli bombardment - many having seen their homes destroyed, some having also lost loved-ones.
But what about Israel? Thousands are also on the move there - heading south to escape the daily rain of Hizbollah rockets.
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the Israeli government estimates that about 6 percent of the country's 7 million residents have been uprooted. Tourists may be bailing out, but hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are packed with refugees from the north.
Even the hotels in Eilat, the Red Sea resort in the far south of the country, are so full that some people are sleeping on the beach.
Der Spiegel tells how one particular group is trying to make the best of a difficult time. They've set up a refugee camp on the beach in Ashkelon, which the magazine says could almost be mistaken for a summer music festival.
In one tent, people practise yoga, in another they are getting their bodies painted. Live bands play every night and thumping techno reverberates down the beach during the day.
The Mediterranean seafront site belongs to a Russian immigrant who has hired a rave promoter, Ilan Faktor, to help run the camp.
"We'll keep dancing here as long as Hizbollah still has rockets," Ilan says.
Some 200 kilometres up the coast refugee life is somewhat different.
With the southern Lebanese city of Sidon reeling under the influx of people escaping devastated border villages, dozens of families have found temporary homes in the country's biggest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el-Hilweh.
"This is a first. Palestinian refugees are receiving the displaced Lebanese," says Ibrahim al-Maqdah, commander of one of the camp's numerous Palestinian factions.
"They will enjoy staying here more than anywhere else," says another resident Maqdah. "We are a nation of refugees, we know how to entertain them."
There are 400,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon. Many were born in refugee camps after their families lost their homes following the 1948 creation of Israel.
In a sign of continued neglect, rubbish piles up in the rutted lanes of Ain el-Hilweh and sewage runs through its streets.
But aid workers say deprivation has not dented its residents' generosity. Indeed, their donations were so overwhelming that a large surplus ended up being sent to other centres for displaced Lebanese.
"People have been donating clothes, food, blankets and sheets," says Atef Moussa, a volunteer. "We had to call on them through mosque loudspeakers to stop - they are in need too."
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