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Monday, January 3, 2011

Somali refugees flee one hell for another

By Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand

Monday, January 03, 2011

KHARAZ REFUGEE CAMP, Yemen — Somalia’s “season of mixed migration” has begun again.

If the United Nation’s terminology for Somalis fleeing hell on earth sounds soothing, the reality is anything but.

In recent years, the sea between the Horn of Africa and Yemen has become one of the busiest and most deadly refugee routes in the world.

As a precautionary measure to avert a repeat of the chaos in its casualty unit following the July 11 twin bombings in Kampala, the Mulago hospital administration has decided to move the unit to ward 3BE.

The transfer of the unit from next to the Hospital Police post into one of the wards, follows fresh terrorist threats of impending attacks issued by the Somali Al Shabaab militants targeted towards Uganda during the just concluded festive season. The development now gives the unit more space and creates some sense of order where formerly the manner in which patients and bodies were handled during emergencies, offered an impression of what hell is.

According to Dr. Byarugaba Baterana the acting deputy executive director of the hospital, the transfer which started a week before Christmas, was part of the Hospital’s preparedness in case terrorists struck the country like they did in July 2010 at Kyadondo rugby club and Ethiopian Village in Kabalagala as football fans watched the World Cup finals. “We have moved to a more spacious place where we can receive more people compared to the casualty unit which was built to receive fewer people. Formerly only four patients could be examined in the clinical area at a time, while others had to wait in the corridor, sometimes the doctor failing to monitor them, which created a lot of confusion.”

He added that compared to the July attacks when the hospital was taken unawares, all the staff had been put on high alert in case anything happened the past festive season. In the July attacks at least more than 70 people died and several others sustained injuries. As a result the casualty unit was flooded with a mixture of the dead and the injured. Some people who were still alive ended up in the morgue after being presumed dead and a makeshift shack next to the waiting area had to be converted into a morgue temporarily. Asked if the Unit will be returned to its original place, he said, “This was a temporarily measure just in case we were attacked. But again after us moving here, we are hearing whispers from people saying here is better than where the unit was before, and you cannot ignore these terrorists when they issue warnings.” He said the hospital had reserved all the theaters for emergencies

Source: MinnPost


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