Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Beirut Hospitals Running on Fumes

Hospitals in Beirut and all over Lebanon are running out of fuel at a time when their services are most needed.

This is a report from ABC News online. Please click on to story and leave a brief comment. The more interest is shown in the story, the more likely it will make it to the ABC Evening News. I heard this intially from my brother three days ago. He works at the AUB hospital and told that they have enough fuel to run the hospital for another two weeks at best.

This is becoming very personal to me. The AUB hospital is where I became a physician and where in 1982, as a medical student, I helped patch up civilians injured during Israel's invasion of Lebanon, a war in which about 18,000 people lost their lives.

Beirut ER: Time's Running Out
July 31, 2006 7:10 PM

Lara Setrakian Reports:

There is not much time left before the lights will go out at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Oil tankers ready to deliver the much-needed fuel are standing by in nearby waters, but they are being kept out by the Israel's blockade.
The hospital has only enough oil to fuel their generators for a maximum of 20 days, or as little as seven days if the state cuts off the little power it now provides, according to Dr. Nadim Cortas, Dean of the medical program.
Israel and others may fear the fuel those tankers carry would go to Hezbollah fighters, used for their trucks and artillery. But Cortas argues this point.
"We see no reason why there should be a blockade on fuel delivery. It could be conditional, only going to hospitals, and it can be monitored. It wouldn't go straight to [Hezbollah] warriors. The blockade…has no benefit to Israel except to inflict more suffering on the civilian population."
What he and other doctors are hoping is that Israel will let the oil through, with either the Lebanese government or third-party agencies, like the Red Cross, making sure it gets to the hospital.
American University Medical Center is Lebanon's biggest and most important hospital. But with the electric grid damaged and the current shortage of fuel, the lights could very well go out for the healthcare provider.
Without the Medical Center, more refugees would likely get their healthcare from Hezbollah's grassroots aid efforts. Hezbollah currently hands out food and care in many of the makeshift shelters around Beirut housing refugees from the south of Lebanon and southern suburbs of Beirut.
If power runs out, it's unclear what would happen to the dozens of refugees and war injured at the hospital, not to mention the routine patients waiting to give birth or receive organ transplants.
"[The Hospital] has received dozens of injured and will receive transfers of dozens more from the south," Dr. Cortas says. "And we've said yes to all of them. Payment is no issue."


Fares said...

Abu Kareem, war is so ugly, I wish people knew how bad it was instead of using their heads to come up with fighting arguments and showing false heroism.I hope that the hospitals are able to keep running to avoid more casualties.

The real heros are people who are trying their best to stop this war or to provide any humanitarian effort possible like your brother in AUB (I hope and pray that he is safe).

It is interesting about your experience in 82, I was not aware, may be you should write more about it when you have time.

My aunt from Syria was having a life and death operation in AUB the same day they started bombing the airport and the roads to Syria. They had to run away right after the operation and luckily they made it safely back to Syria.

When I read about how people are considering HA to be victorious, I feel like throwing up...what kind of victory is this when you destroy an entire country. I guess Assad wants Lebanon dead or Alive.

May be he is a fake doctor afterall...

The Syrian Brit said...

Abu Kareem,
As you will remember, back in 1982, the AUB Hospital continued to function even during the darkest hours of that fateful period.. Not only it continued to care for its patients, but also it became home for hundreds of dispossessed and displaced refugees, who sheltered in the deep 'bowels' of the Hospital basement.. What is happening today equals, and perhaps surpasses, the worst of the worst moments in Lebanon's modern history..
Fares, I suspect Abu Kareem would agree with me that, as much as we would like to forget THAT experience, I am sure neither of us will ever do!.. That exprience is part of the reason why the current situation hurts so much, particularly for those of us who still remember the dark days on the summer of 1982...

Abu Kareem said...


You are absolutely right. For years I thought of those days and those experiences would intrude unexpectedly into my dreams. But I thought I had put those experiences in the far recesses of my memory. I never imagined that I would see dark days like that return to Beirut.

What many people in the West don't realize is how far Lebanon had come since then and how close it was to achieving "normalcy". This is what is so heartbreaking to the Lebanese and those who know and love Lebanon.

Fares said...

indeed Abu Kareem

Philip I said...

For reference:

Lebanon crisis maps

Fares said...

Abu Kareem,

I hope you are doing well despite all the problems and the tragic events in Lebanon

I need your support and the support of the other enlightened visitors to this blog

Harming Syria, Dream on
please come and show love, support and solidarity for Syria which is apparently now on the neo-cons radar. YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED.