Volunteers sought to aid Iraqis


  • Nation
  • Friday, 31 Jan 2003

By JANE RITIKOS

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia) is looking for 100 volunteers to prepare for a mission to Iraq should war occur there. 

Mercy Malaysia chief operating officer Mohd Shah Awaluddin said it would need to standby a contingent of at least 100 trained medical and humanitarian volunteers to provide relief as soon as the situation warrants. 

The volunteers, he said, could be those who had gone on missions to Afghanistan, Turkey, Cambodia and India as well as first-timers. 

“We welcome people of various background and age. We want to have a mixture of fresh and present volunteers,” he said. 

To prepare themselves to serve in Iraq, the volunteers will undergo a one-day training including in safety and security, evacuation, local sensitivities, how to work in camp/desert environment, teamwork, survival and communication. 

“As the volunteers may leave for Iraq at a 72-hour notice, they will need to immediately undergo a special course which will start in February,” he said. 

He added that the volunteers would be despatched in teams of 10 to areas determined as the safest areas.  

“They should be prepared to serve for at least two weeks. A team will consist of two female and two male doctors, two nurses, two medical assistants and two non-medical personnel,” he told a press conference yesterday.  

Mercy Malaysia volunteers will attend to internally displaced people and refugees and may be assigned to work in medical and humanitarian relief centres other then those run by Mercy Malaysia.  

Like its mission in Afghanistan, he said, Mercy Malaysia was prepared to extend its Iraq mission to post-crisis or for rehabilitation purposes. 

Mohd Shah, Mercy Malaysia's consultant orthopaedic surgeon and international relief committee member Dr Heng Aik Cheng and architect and head of volunteer management and emergency response Norazam Abu Samah returned from Iraq on Tuesday after a nine-day fact-finding trip. 

The visit was to assess the current living conditions of the Iraqis, develop possible non-crisis medical and humanitarian relief projects and an emergency response plan in the event of war in Iraq.  

Iraq was in immediate need of medical supplies and equipment because it was not allowed access to drugs deemed by the United States as having dual-usage (including to produce chemical weapons), Mohd Shah said.  

He said the visits enabled Mercy Malaysia to draw up a relief programme for a non-crisis situation and for its emergency response in the event of a war in Iraq. 

In the event of a war, it has drawn up two plans. 

The first is immediate deployment of volunteers working in facilities set up by its local partners at basic health units (BHU) or field hospitals.  

The second plan, proposed from May 1, is deployment of a self-sustaining BHU and mobilisation of teams within 72 hours. 

Mohd Shah also said Mercy Malaysia would launch its Iraq Relief Fund soon to finance its mission. 

Its fund-raising manager Tunku Azela Tunku Abdul Aziz said Mercy Malaysia hoped to raise RM6mil this year. 

A fund-raising dinner will be held on March 21 at Dewan Perdana, Felda to be graced by Mercy Malaysia's patron Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.  

For further information or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Mercy Malaysia at tel: 03-4256 9999 or fax 03-4251 8435, or alternatively register on-line at www.mercy.org.my  

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