Warrenton, VIRGINIA - 5 March 2008 - Air Serv International recently carried an Orbis International assessment team from Amman, Jordan to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Orbis International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to blindness prevention and sight restoration in developing nations, conducted the assessment trip to determine the need for an expansion of its services in the Middle East.
Orbis International is well known around the world for its Flying Eye Hospital, a re-furbished DC-10 aircraft outfitted as a complete, mobile teaching hospital. The international medical team onboard the aircraft performs eye surgeries and trains doctors, nurses and other eye care staff from the local health care community in an effort to strengthen their capability in blindness prevention and treatment. Orbis also conducts in-country eye care programs and has country offices in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam, as well as programs in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Orbis team included Vice President/Programs Paul Hamilton, Flying Eye Hospital Director Erwin Temmerman, Program Officer Xuejing Chen, and Middle East Consultant Nadia Khouri. The team visited Air Serv International's facilities in Amman, Jordan prior to flying to Iraq.
Air Serv International's new humanitarian flight service to Sulaimaniyah, begun earlier this year, has greatly improved access to Kurdistan for international aid organizations, many of which had relocated to Jordan and Cyprus due to security concerns. However, NGOs are increasingly expressing the need to get back into Iraq on a more permanent basis. The Iraqi humanitarian crisis is deepening due to the internal displacements of the civilian population and the increasing pressure on Iraqi refugees to return home from neighboring countries, where local economies have been severely burdened by the influx of Iraqis fleeing the violence in their homeland.
Air Serv International began humanitarian flights into Iraq in May of 2003, the first civilian air carrier allowed access to Iraq following the end of initial combat operations. From its base in Amman, Air Serv International conducts regular flight to and from Baghdad, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.
Air Serv International is a not-for-profit humanitarian aviation organization providing disaster relief, sustainable development, environmental restoration and medical evacuations to those in need. Established in 1984, the organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. For more information on Air Serv International and Orbis International, please visit the websites of the two organizations: www.airserv.org and www.orbis.org.