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Israel Humanitarian Operations: Refugee Relief Efforts in Kosovo

(Updated April 1999)

On April 6, 1999, an IDF medical mission took off for Macedonia to render medical assistance to Albanian refugees from Kosovo.

Commander of the mission is Deputy Surgeon General, COL. Dr. Hezi Levi.

The mission comprises 70 servicemen and women including 12 physicians: a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, an orthopedic surgeon, a gynecologist, four specialists in internal medicine, two pediatricians and two physicians who immigrated from Albania and who were drafted specially for this mission. Many of the physicians are also specialists in infectious diseases and are veterans of previous IDF humanitarian missions such as those to Rwanda and Kenya.

The mission also includes two paramedics, seven nurses, medics, a medical engineer, specialists in preventive medicine, a pharmacist, as well as X-ray and laboratory technicians.

The mission will land in Skopje, Macedonia and proceed twelve kilometers north to Stenkovech, where it will set up an emergency room capable of attending to several hundred patients a day and a field hospital which can hospitalize up to a hundred patients. The hospital will be a able to perform basic general, trauma, orthopedic, and gynecological surgery.

The Israel Air Force flew the mission to Macedonia in three IAF Hercules and a Boeing.

The current mission will be for two weeks according to government decision and may be extended.

IDF Surgeon General Arie Eldad stated that the IDF Medical Corps had 36 hours to prepare the mission and did so admirably.

This follows the first shipment of emergency supplies (medicines, medical equipment, jackets and tents) to Kosovo refugees organized by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and flown by special Israel Air Force plane on April 2. The plane landed in Skopje, Macedonia and Tirane, Albania.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry