Christians Continue Aid in Russian Hostage Drama Aftermath

Efforts to heal the hurting village certainly continue as donations, medical supplies, and volunteers have continued to make their way from all corners of the globe.
( [email protected] ) Sep 10, 2004 11:27 AM EDT

It has been one week since a hostage crisis in the Russian village of Beslan came to a tragic conclusion, with at least 329 hostages dead. But while the drama has ended, efforts to heal the hurting village certainly has not, as donations, medical supplies, and volunteers have continued to make their way from all corners of the globe. Meanwhile, doctors continue to work around the clock treating hundreds of wounded children and adults.

“It looked like a scene from ‘Emergency 911.’ The hospitals were in full response mode,” said David Womble, World Vision Russia program manager after visiting medical facilities in Beslan and nearby Vladikavkaz after the tragedy.

World Vision reported that after Friday’s violent conclusion to the hostage drama at School No. 1 in Beslan, the medical centers were overcome with the wounded and dying in the hours. Womble said that beds were full of bandaged patients, surrounded by family members. The corridors were crowded with people trying to learn the fate of loved ones. Most of Womble’s meetings took place in those corridors.

“They weren’t long conversations,” he said. “The doctors were visibly shaken and exhausted after working 24 hours straight.”

Within three days of the school siege, World Vision has assisted in the battle for lives and delivered the first medical supplies to the Republican Emergency Hospital and Republican Children's Hospital, both in North Ossetia’s capital, Vladikavkaz.

World Vision has since then continued its delivery of medical supplies to hospitals in Ossetia, to help cope with the influx of injured.

Jitka Kubinova, World Vision Operations Manager for Russia, escorted the first delivery.

“Dr. Dzhanaev, chief doctor at the Children's Hospital didn't say much, but his eyes said everything. He expressed that he was so thankful for this assistance that came at a time of great need.”

The first delivery consisted of tens of blood pressure gauges and thousands of child and adult diapers.

“We are now eagerly awaiting the delivery of three lung ventilation machines, five bedside heart monitors, some 70 blood pressure gauges, 400 scalpel blades and hundreds of plastic mattress coverings,” said Jitka. Supplies are now on their way from Rostok.

Apart from providing medical supplies and equipment, World Vision is planning to provide hospitals with toys for the young victims.

“Over the next few days, energy will be focused on treating the wounded and burying the dead. People are still in a state of shock. But then, trauma will set in, especially with the children and adults who had been held hostage. For the next few months, they could have a serious problem with flashbacks, headaches, nightmares and other symptoms.”

World Vision reports that they will be working with other organizations to design psycho-social programs for survivors. The agency has experience in nearby Chechnya, where six staff psychologists provide counseling to children traumatized by the war, and train teachers and parents to recognize symptoms of stress in children. Teams are now being mobilised to work in Beslan, where they will provide psychosocial support to the devastated community.

Caritas volunteers were also on-site around the clock at the terrorized school, helping the victims in any way they could. The volunteers, including two psychologists, supplied medicine and medical material to two hospitals where children have been treated.

In a statement made by Caritas Internatalis, the agency said that depending on the financial aid available, they seek to provide additional medicine and medical supplies for patients needing long-term treatment.

In addition, Caritas will offer food to families that have lost loved ones, in particular breadwinners, as well as psychological support and rehabilitation help for the children.