Swiss doctor evacuated injured children


By Gabrielle Tetreault-Farber

GENEVA (Reuters) – When Swiss doctor Rauf Salti realized he couldn’t go to Gaza to help injured children, he decided he would do everything possible to bring them to Geneva to receive medical care.

After dealing with red tape, Salti was allowed to bring four children, including a 16-year-old who has kidney failure and already had a leg amputated, to cross into Egypt from Gaza and then on Monday. Got permission to fly to Switzerland.

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Salti, who flew to Egypt to pick them up, waved as he was welcomed by his team at Geneva airport and in his arms was wide-eyed 17-month-old Zeina, who was rescued from under the debris in Gaza.

“When I saw that the situation was getting worse and worse, I decided that this time my mission would be to go there and bring them here,” said Salti, who has participated in several international humanitarian missions to Gaza as well as other parts of the world. have taken. Middle East and Africa over the last 14 years.

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Salti, a urological surgeon and himself a descendant of Palestinian refugees, was scheduled to travel to Gaza on October 19 to perform operations, including planned kidney surgery on a child.

But his humanitarian mission, part of his work as founder of an NGO called Children’s Right for Healthcare, was called off due to the Israeli offensive launched in the wake of the October 7 attacks by Hamas gunmen.

The four children who arrived in Geneva on Monday are the second group that Salti has managed to take to Switzerland, bringing their total to eight. The children have been given 90-day visas to receive medical care.

“The important thing is to give them a normal life with people, with peace, tranquility and love. A child’s life,” Salti said after arriving at his office with the children and their mothers.

The four were selected with the help of their contacts in Gaza on the basis that they were well enough to travel and could be helped in Switzerland.

Sixteen-year-old Youssef, who lost his left leg and had his kidney crushed in the Israeli attack, is emaciated, weighing less than 30 kilograms (66 pounds). Doctors in Gaza amputated the rest of the leg that was blown off, but he still needs to regain strength and will eventually be given a prosthetic limb.

17-month-old Zeina was initially treated at al-Shifa hospital, the largest facility in the Gaza Strip, which was raided by Israeli forces in November.

Her short left arm, which was supported by a sling, suffered multiple fractures, which doctors attempted to repair using external fixation, but an infection caused the structure to be removed.

“You can’t talk about sterile (equipment) there anymore, it doesn’t exist,” Salti said.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tetreault-Farber and Cecile Mantovani in Geneva; Additional reporting by Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,


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