UK medics to fly to Beirut to assist health response

British medics will fly out to Beirut on Friday to assist with the health response following the deadly explosion in the Lebanese capital, the Government said.

The Department for International Development (DfID) confirmed that a team of five medics from the UK’s Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT) will leave from Heathrow and travel to Lebanon, at the request of the Lebanese government, to determine the urgent needs in the Beirut health system.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Government will do “everything we can to help the people of Lebanon in their hour of need”.

The explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, believed to be the result of the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored unsafely at a port warehouse, left at least 154 people dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless.

Women walk past destroyed cars in a neighbourhood near the scene of Tuesday’s explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon
Women walk past destroyed cars in a neighbourhood near the scene of Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut (Thibault Camus/AP)

UK aid-funded charity MapAction will provide specialist satellite and other mapping services to help humanitarian experts on the ground, DfID added.

As part of the £5 million that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced earlier this week, the Government on Friday allocated £3 million to the British Red Cross for medical and humanitarian assistance.

The medical team specialises in trauma, emergency nursing and rehabilitation and is funded by UK aid.

Another medic from the UK EMT is already in Beirut.

Earlier this week, the UK also sent a team of four humanitarian experts to Beirut, comprised of two logisticians, a security adviser and a field support specialist.

Once in Beirut, the medical experts will visit hospitals and clinics, both functioning and damaged, to gain an understanding of the severity of the challenges and any further specialists that may be needed.

They will also meet with the World Health Organisation, United Nations and NGOs to help co-ordinate the response, the department said.

The team, made up of volunteers from UK-Med and Humanity and Inclusion, includes an orthopaedic surgeon and trauma consultant, senior health advisers, a paramedic and a rehabilitation specialist.

It follows the announcement from the Ministry of Defence on Thursday that Royal Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise will sail to Lebanon to assess the damage to Beirut’s port and help return it to normal operations.

Ms Trevelyan said: “The Lebanese people continue to be in our thoughts at this terrible time. The UK is sending these world-leading medics to use their expertise and to make sure the people of Lebanon get the help they need as quickly as possible.

“Today’s field team comes on top of the UK’s substantial military support and aid package. We will do everything we can to help the people of Lebanon in their hour of need.”

David Wightwick, the chief executive of UK-Med, which co-ordinates the deployment of medics from the UK’s Emergency Medical Team, said: “I’ve worked in and have friends in Beirut, so like everyone was shocked to see the devastation following the explosion in the city and so many people harmed.

“UK-Med and partners Humanity and Inclusion are supporting the UK Emergency Medical Team to make an assessment of how we might contribute to the health response, working alongside partners on the ground to support overstretched health facilities and provide specialist clinicians.”

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