In March 2015, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched refresher first-aid sessions for members of different factions in the Palestinian refugee camp in Ein El Helwe, in the Lebanese city of Sidon. The training is combined with information sessions on the rules of armed conflict as well as the importance of respecting healthcare personnel. The project was launched a year ago and has reached more than 170 people so far.
This overpopulated camp with an estimated 100,000 inhabitants living just on a 1.5 km2 plot of land and over a dozen armed groups present there, is an area of concern in the event of armed clashes. With limited emergency healthcare capacity and because of extremely narrow streets that make it virtually impossible for ambulances to reach many of the Ein El Helwe areas, residents rely on a network of volunteers set up by the Human Call Association, a Palestinian organization providing medical services in the camp.
"Lack of access makes it very hard to reach wounded people rapidly enough and in case of weapon-inflicted wounds. It is imperative to be able to provide first aid on the spot as fast as possible, to minimize the risk of death or of disabilities and long-term complications," says Rodolfo Rossi, an ICRC health delegate in Beirut.
The first-aid project focuses on creating a life-saving casualty chain that aims at stabilizing the wounded, either on the spot or in one of the two first-aid posts that were set up and equipped by the ICRC in strategic locations around the camp, before finally transporting them to one of the three ICRC-supported hospitals for further treatment.
"First aid training to armed groups also offers the ICRC an opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the importance of protecting and respecting emergency healthcare workers as well as the victims," says Teresa Plana Casado, head of the ICRC office in Tyre.
The ICRC also spreads among the participants basic knowledge about humanitarian rules and principles applicable in situations of violence.
Apart from the Ein El Helwe Palestinian refugee camp, the ICRC also provided community-based first-aid training to Syrian refugees in the area of Chebaa in the south of Lebanon. In cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross, it is currently also running an extensive first-aid programme for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
The ICRC has been present in Lebanon since 1967. It has representations in Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre and the Bekaa, with 245 staff members and a budget of 45 million Swiss francs.
For further information, please contact:
Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Lebanon, tel: +961 71802876
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 447 37 26