A warm Saturday for Sudanese and Eritrean refugees at MDA
In a unique humanitarian operation, with special help from the Red Cross, Magen David Adom provided warm shelter, food, mattresses and blankets to approximately one hundred refugees. From Sudan and Eritrea, the refugees live in Levinski park in Tel Aviv with no roof over their head and it’s doubtful if they would survive the stormy weather this weekend without a shelter.
Last Thursday, while MDA prepared for snow due to stormy weather reports that weekend, MDA’s Director received information about dozens of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, living outdoors in the Levinski park in Tel Aviv for months.
Upon receiving the information, MDA’s Director decided that the organisation cannot stand idly by as dozens of refugees suffer in the cold, and called for an emergency meeting late afternoon. During the discussion they decided to take care of the refugees, and within only two hours the MDA administration building became a warm shelter for the refugees. After the meeting trucks started to arrive with portable bathrooms, showers, beds, mattresses, sleeping bags, warm blankets, winter clothing, slippers and other equipment for the refugees, with the kind help of the Red Cross.
In addition, MDA turned various offices in the administration building into storage units for hundreds of towels, underwear, socks, slippers, soaps and toiletries. Furthermore, MDA provided warm food for the refugees and even brought them TVs and games such as Backgammon and Checkers in order to make their stay more pleasant. By 9PM on Thursday, everything was ready for their arrival.
MDA service vans went to Levinski park and brought the refugees to the building. Their ages varied from one year to 40, and among them was also a woman with her two little children.
Upon arriving, the refugees were processed so MDA could keep contact with them in the future, after which they were given a medical examination by a physician and a paramedic, both finding different medical problems and treating them. It became apparent to the medical staff that in addition to sicknesses, many of the refugees suffered from wounds and bruises and some of them had gunshot wounds which still had bullets in them from when they passed the border. Some even had stab wounds that had become infected or broken bones that weren’t properly treated.
After the medical exams, the refugees all received warm meals.
MDA provided an Arabic speaker especially for the refugees, who gave them a first aid course which could help them save lives in the future. MDA employees and volunteers volunteered to come and assist the refugees during the weekend and help keep them safe.
Needless to say, all the activities were conducted with the observance of Sabbath.
MDA management had received donations of large bags for each one of the refugees so they could take back with them the equipment that they had received, such sleeping bags, clothing and toiletries.
After the refugees left the building, the mother and her two children remained and are being given shelter to this day. Throwing a mother and two little children to the cold is not an option. MDA will keep giving them shelter and hope a solution will be found by the authorities. MDA’s General Director Eli Bin has asked the Red Cross to help care for the family, as well as requesting to help the refugees in general.
Eli Bin said: “It was very moving to see people, who are usually starving and subjected to freezing weather conditions in the park, enjoy food, beverages, a warm bed and other basic necessities. Some of the refugees mentioned that they had not bathed in months because they had nowhere to do so, leading to severe sanitary risks. MDA is therefore preparing to purchase portable hot shower structures and industrial washing machines that will benefit the refugees’ hygiene and is crucial for their health. There is no doubt that this is not the end of the operation, but it is beginning. We will continue to help and protect the refugees as much as we can. We can’t leave them as they are on the street. I hope that the authorities will act quickly to find a solution for them”.
MDA teams are now making plans to operate a portable clinic that will reach the refugees in Levinski park, in order to check on them and protect their health.
Ahmad Isaman, one of the refugees who came from Darfur 4 years ago, said: “MDA gave us clothes, food, warm shelter and even a toothbrush. I don’t have enough words to say how thankful I am”.