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Relief team's departure for Baghdad delayed

The team of surgeons, nurses and paramedics -- being sent as part of an independent initiative launched by a prominent Muslim group -- was to have taken a consignment of scarce medicines to the Iraqi capital.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2003 16:03 IST

An Indian medical team slated to leave for Iraq on Monday to work with the Red Cross in Baghdad hospitals is still awaiting clearances to proceed to war-torn Iraq.

The team of surgeons, nurses and paramedics -- being sent as part of an independent initiative launched by a prominent Muslim group -- was to have taken a consignment of scarce medicines to the Iraqi capital, which is being pounded by US-led coalition forces.

"While we have got permission from the Indian government and authorities in Syria and Iraq to go to Baghdad to work in the hospitals with the Red Cross and provide humanitarian relief, some logistic formalities are still to be completed," N A Farooqi, the health projects director of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, told IANS.

The logistic formalities to be settled include immigration clearance for some team members and finding out whether the plane will be allowed to fly to Baghdad or the team and the cargo would have to go by road via Syria or some other Middle East country neighbouring war-ravaged Iraq.

Farooqi will be part of the first team led by general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani and J K Jain, a surgeon and former Member of Parliament. The team now hopes to leave in a day or two once its chartered plane arrives from Dubai.

A Mumbai-based company, Eastern Cargo, is arranging for the chartered plane -- a DC-10 -- to take the team and cargo of around 20 tonnes of 52 vital medicines to Baghdad.

"We have a team of 32 surgeons, paramedical and nursing staff ready to leave once the formalities are completed. As it may not be possible for all to leave together, the team will be sent in two groups depending on who gets clearance first," said Farooqi.

"It is being worked out whether the plane can land in Baghdad as we are carrying humanitarian aid and the team is going to work in hospitals there," said Farooqi.

"We will supply 52 necessary medicines that are in short supply there. This list is based on information received through the Iraq embassy here and the input of our representatives who visited Baghdad before the war started."


First Published: Apr 07, 2003 16:03 IST