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Britons help injured in Gaza

British specialists have travelled to war-torn Gaza to provide rehabilitation for patients injured in the recent conflict.

Three teams of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses are taking it in turns to deploy in the Palestinian territory to provide assistance and train local rehabilitation staff.

A total of 12 professionals will treat some of the 11,000 Palestinians thought to have been injured during the war between Israel and Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza.

Mostly from the NHS, they are members of the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR), which trains British medical and health professionals to deploy to humanitarian emergencies.

Project manager Peter Skelton, who works for disability charity Handicap International, said the team were facing "very challenging" conditions on the ground but had been stunned by the "humility and resolution" of patients and local staff.

The 32-year-old, originally from Scarborough in North Yorkshire and now living in London, has experience in conflict and disaster zones from Libya, Iraq and Jordan to Haiti and the Philippines.

He said that parts of Gaza reminded him of the worst natural disasters he had witnessed.

"It depends on the area - in Gaza City one street will be completely normal and people are carrying on with their lives as best they can.

"But across the road or round the corner it can be similar to a natural disaster, like an earthquake."

The British team is dealing with some of the most complex injuries, including amputations, spinal cord injuries and fractures.

Mr Skelton described how one man they are treating had not heard the approach of artillery fire because he is deaf.

"Everybody was able to flee but he was not aware and suffered severe fractures to both his legs.

"Another patient with an existing amputation who was trying to flee left his prosthesis and it was destroyed.

"Children with disabilities or who were caught up in things and injured do not have access to the services they would normally depend on, so they are at risk."

The UKIETR is run by charity UK-Med, funded by the Department for International Development and supported by Handicap International and Save the Children.


From Belfast Telegraph