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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Providing Emergency Relief

Providing Emergency Relief

On Monday October 23, Dr. Gino Strada, founder and Executive Director of Emergency, an international nonprofit humanitarian organization will be speaking at 1:30 in the Alumni Lounge on the Campus Center 2nd floor.

The event, sponsored by the Joiner Center and the McCormack Institute, will be two hours long and consist of Dr. Strada relating his experiences as a war surgeon, speaking about his organization, and offering ways that students can help civilian victims of war.

Emergency is an independent, neutral and nonpolitical humanitarian organization established to provide care to civilian victims of war and of land mines. Emergency provides aid by building and staffing state of the art hospitals and first aid posts in war torn areas. Civilian victims of war are disproportionately poor and unable to afford proper emergency health care, for this reason, Emergency provides all of its services absolutely free of any charge.

In addition to serving the needs of the people through medical care Emergency seeks to end violence and warfare in general. Dr. Strada has been a very outspoken critic on warfare, and hopes that warfare in the world will someday be a social taboo, much like slavery.

According to Emergency’s website, in conflicts today over 90 percent of victims are civilians. Every single year millions of people die because of wars they had no direct part in.

Emergency makes the decision to enter an area and undertake a project based on if there is an explicit need in the country for their services, and if there is a clear lack of other organizations and care. When Emergency moves into an area they assist by building specialized hospitals, first aid posts, rehabilitation centers, and other health centers for general needs.

In addition to building centers and serving people, the organization also seeks to train others on how to provide medical assistance. Current projects are being undertaken in Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Seirra Leone.

Emergency seeks to always keep a long term vision in their projects. Emergency does not only respond to crises, but makes an attempt to ensure that after other groups begin to focus elsewhere, that high quality medical care will still exist in the country. When possible, Emergency seeks to transfer control of its health centers to the health agencies of the country they are in-provided that free service to any who come can be guaranteed.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, Emergency has been operating there for longer than the United States has been directly involved in the conflicts. In both countries hospitals have been operated there since the 1980’s. In both these countries, but especially in Iraq, Emergency has been sharply critical of U.S. intervention and “occupation”.

“Regardless of the play on words,” Gino Strada commented, “Afghanistan is a country occupied by foreign military forces. And, as far as I know, there is not one population on earth that likes to live under foreign occupation. The Afghans are no different.”

Despite their criticisms of certain government policies, Emergency does make an effort to establish political neutrality. For example, when building hospitals in Afghanistan, a deliberate decision was made to build a hospital both in the area controlled by the Northern Alliance, as well in the area controlled by the Taliban.

Emergency is funded primarily by small individual donations. Their staff is made up of volunteers.

Dr. Gino Strada originally founded the organization in 1994 in Milan, Italy. Prior to starting Emergency, Dr. Strada worked as a surgeon treating those injured during war. In 2003 Dr. Strada began to tour college campuses in the United States. Through these tours, the idea of starting Emergency, USA was envisioned. Emergency, USA seeks to raise awareness and to contribute to the humanitarian efforts being conducted around the world.

About the Contributor
Taylor Fife served as the  for The Mass Media the following years: 2006-2007