|© UNICEF Egypt /2009|
|UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa Mahmoud Kabil (right), talks to Ikhlas, 9, a young girl wounded in the Gaza fighting. Next to him is fellow Egyptian actor and National UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Khaled Abol Naga.|
By Charbel Raji
GAZA STRIP, Occupied Palestinian Territory, 17 February 2009 – Egyptian actor and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa Mahmoud Kabil paid a special visit last week to El-Arish hospital in Egypt, near the Rafah border crossing to Gaza.
Accompanied by fellow actor and UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Egypt Khaled Abol Naga, Mr. Kabil met Palestinians injured during the recent conflict in Gaza. The conflict has claimed some 1,440 lives, including over 430 children and more than 110 women.
Moral and psychological support
Mr. Kabil spent one full day at El-Arish hospital, where he wished patients a rapid recovery and a swift return to their homes and families. He paid personal visits to the injured, and talked with medical staff about the recovery process.
While there, Mr. Kabil commended the staff’s efforts to absorb those who could not be accommodated by hospitals in Gaza, which were hindered by intermittent access to power and a high volume of patients during the conflict.
Mr. Kabil and Mr. Naga spoke with the Mayor of Rafah, Major General Samih Issa, about the challenges faced by the first-aid team at El-Arish. Beyond transporting the injured from Gaza and providing medical care, doctors also provide moral and psychological support to patients who often must be treated away from their loved ones for an extended period.
Children are the most vulnerable
Children under the age of 18 account for more than 50 per cent of the total population in Gaza. In conflict situations, they remain the most vulnerable and are particularly susceptible to fear and panic.
Mr. Kabil offered his full support to children in Gaza, committing to work with UNICEF and its partners to develop an effective, immediate relief effort. Many children have endured psychological trauma, having lost parents, friends and classmates in the violence, as well as having sustained serious physical injury themselves.
“Before my position as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, I am a human being and an artist first,” said Mr. Kabil. “I feel the troubles felt by the people deeply.”