Beirut explosion: humanitarian agencies send 43 tonnes of aid from Dubai base

More than Dh2m of medical equipment was flown to Lebanon on Wednesday

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A plane carrying 43 tonnes of medical equipment took off from Dubai on Wednesday to help Beirut's hospitals treat thousands of wounded patients.

Syringes, bandages and surgical gowns were among the supplies on board worth more than Dh2 million.

At Dubai's International Humanitarian City, 180 pallets were loaded on trucks for the cargo flight, which left from the Dubai Airport Royal Air Wing about 5.45pm.

The plane was flown free of charge on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

The aid was supplied by the World Health Organisation and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in co-ordination with Ministry of Health and Prevention.

Teams worked through the night to prepare the packages at warehouses in International Humanitarian City, where dozens of aid agencies are based.

Nevien Attalla, operations manager for the WHO's Dubai centre, said the call to prepare aid packages came from its representative office in Beirut at 9pm on Tuesday.

That was only hours after the blast at the city's main port, which killed at least 135 people and wounded more than 4,000.

Ms Attalla said 23 tonnes of supplies were distributed to help hospitals treat about 2,000 patients.

“We are offering medical trauma kits and surgical kits containing things such as syringes, bandages and surgical gowns," she said.

“Overnight we doubled the quantity as more information about the situation came in."

Ten trauma kits and 10 surgical kits were due to be sent, with each kit of which contained supplies that can treat up to 100 people.

"More may be sent depending on what is needed," Ms Attalla said.

George Maina, warehouse manager for the IFRC, said it sent 20 tonnes of personal protective equipment including N95 masks, gloves and surgical caps and gowns to protect medical staff from the coronavirus.

“We loaded 94 pallets of PPE on to five trucks. That’s about 20 metric tonnes in total,” Mr Maina said.

“We were able to move quickly and our teams worked through the night to prepare the freight, which will soon reach thousands of beneficiaries in Lebanon.

“International Humanitarian City donated the flight, which will carry the items and they provided us with free transport to move the supplies to the airport.”

Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, said the UAE would stand by its neighbours in times of need.

“The UAE’s commitment to provide various forms of support in such situations underlines our solidarity with all brotherly and friendly countries in time of crises," Ms Al Hashimy said.

"We will work to assess the situation to evaluate what further assistance we can provide.”

Under the directives of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the UAE is preparing to offer further support to those worst affected by the devastating blasts.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region and chairman of Emirates Red Crescent, will monitor the delivery of this assistance.

It includes medicine and medical equipment, and dietary supplements for children.

The Red Crescent said the aircraft would depart at a later time.

It said the focus would be on medical supplies to help Lebanese clinics during a hugely challenging period.

A huge outpouring of sympathy and support from the UAE has been extended to Lebanon.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, has pledged a month's worth of urgent medical supplies for hospitals in the country with more than 1,000 beds.

And the Khalaf Al Habtoor Hospital at Hrar, in northern Lebanon, will open auxiliary treatment support for patients who are unable to be accommodated in Beirut hospitals.