Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UK medics go on hunger strike after being refused entry into Gaza

Hammersmith team stuck in Egypt at Rafa crossing since 4 May
Group on humanitarian mission to set up cardiac hospital unit

Haroon Siddique
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 May 2009

"Three British medics began a hunger strike in Egypt today to protest against being refused entry into Gaza for a humanitarian mission.

Their aim is to establish a cardiac surgery unit at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, which currently has no such facility, and to help train medical students and junior doctors there. But the British medics have been denied access to the Palestinian territory at the Rafah crossing since the beginning of May.

Omar Mangoush, a cardiac surgeon at Hammersmith hospital, in London, told guardian.co.uk he had been to the crossing with his colleagues every day since arriving in Egypt on 4 May, only to be told they did not have permission to enter.

"We are on hunger strike until they let us through," he said. "We'll stay [at the crossing] until they let us in......

"This is very important for us," he said. "There are loads of people with heart disease [in Gaza]. They can't get here [to Egypt], they can't get to Israel. If it's this hard for us to get to, how difficult is it for the Palestinians to get out?"

PIMA's director, Dr Ahmed Almari, said: "It's unbelievable. They're a group of doctors, they went for education and teaching, to set up a cardiac unit. It's unfair and sad that it is only as a result of a hunger strike that anybody pays attention. There's no reason to stop them from crossing."....."

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