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RUSSIAN MILITARY HOSPITAL STAYS ON SUMATRA

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti's military commentator Viktor Litovkin) - Three Il-76MD military transport planes have brought the medical personnel of the 183rd special task medical unit of Russia's Volga-Urals military district, i.e. field hospital personnel, from Banda Aceh in Indonesia to their home city of Yekaterinburg.

146 military and civilian army experts spent more than 30 days, i.e. from January 9 to February 19, in a remote area on the northern coast of Indonesia's Sumatra. The Russian government ordered them to fly for Sumatra immediately after a devastating wave hit the island late last year. From January 6 to 8 the hospital was outfitted with relevant equipment and brought to the island by military-transport aircraft, which took 12 flights.

The Russian military brought a completed reception ward, surgery, anesthesiology, intensive care and hospital units, as well as laboratory, dental and gynaecological equipment. They also brought a mobile kitchen, a bath and laundry unit, and other equipment, food, fuel, and lubricants enough to survive in the tropics for three months. In addition, the aircraft delivered 24 vehicles, including 14 specialized ones, and a diesel power generating unit. The cargo was $500,000 worth. About 30 medical personnel included infectious disease officers and research institute employees. They provided emergency medical aid to 1,500 Indonesians, and 2,200 local children were vaccinated against enteric fever.

The Russian military hospital on Sumatra was many times visited by World Health Organization (W.H.O.) officials and the W.H.O. special envoy to Indonesia, Dr. Eigil Sorensen, members of the U.N. coordinating center in Aceh headed by Gian-Carlo Buletti, officials from the International Red Cross and its regional head Richard Kyrk, and the chiefs of the German and Australian hospitals that also worked in the region. News agencies wrote they had been satisfied with the Russian hospital's facilities, medical supplies, mobility, self-sufficiency, range of medical services provided, and the professional level of its personnel who had worked in Kosovo, Chechnya, Nicaragua, and other hot spots where highly qualified medical aid was needed. International experts said the Russian hospital was the largest one and it was equipped better than other hospitals working in the country that had been mercilessly hit by the disaster.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to donate the hospital in Aceh to Indonesia. The hospital facilities cost over 20 million rubles, or about $1 million. The military will only take back their surgical, dental, and gynaecological equipment that is worth 5.6 million rubles (about $200,000) overall. The Defense Ministry believes it may need the equipment in other places. Working in Sumatra cost the Defense Ministry over $4 million, which included the cost of both-way flights from the Koltsovo air field near Yekaterinburg (a total of 12 flights in early January and another three flights recently) and the value of the medical equipment that was left in Indonesia. This amount of money, however, does not include travel allowances, i.e. $65 per individual a day, which are also to be paid by the Defense Ministry.

Russia's Finance Ministry allocated an overall of $22 million for aid to Southeast Asia. Of that amount $12 million were contributed to the World Food Program, $3 million went to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, $3.5 million to the U.N. Children's Fund, and $3.5 million to the W.H.O. The Moscow Patriarchy raised 10 million rubles ($330,000). The money was used to buy flour and other foodstuffs that were sent to the victims. The Public Council of Beslan, the city that suffered an atrocious terrorist attack last September, took the decision on December 30 to send 1 million rubles ($33,000) to the areas hit by the disaster.

In addition, Russia sent the Emergencies Ministry's airborne hospital and its Tsentrospas rescue team to Thailand's Phuket. Another airborne hospital was sent to southern Sri Lanka.

Emergencies Ministry and Defense Ministry aircraft made another 11 flights to Sri Lanka and Thailand to deliver 550 tons of humanitarian aid worth over $9 million. Among other things, they brought 410 tents for 10 or 30 people each, 250 beds, 15,700 blankets, 22,000 bed-linen sets, 177 water purification units, 6.2 tons of drinking water, 2,200 liters of disinfectants, 21 diesel power plants, and 55 tons of food.

"Russia has demonstrated its solidarity with the countries hit by the natural disaster in fact, not in word. This is not an endeavor, or some heroic deed of Russia's, but its code of conduct. Russia has always helped those who need help," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin said at a news conference in Geneva recently.



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