Red Cross confirms empty blood bags among items blocked by India

Red Cross
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India’s ongoing blockade of its border points with Nepal is not only producing snaking queues of empty-tanked motor vehicles but is about to put the lives of many critical patients at risk as the mountainous republic risks running out of blood bags.

Nepal Red Cross SocietyA senior Nepal Red Cross Society official confirmed that one of the thousands of trucks that infamously continue to be held on the Indian side of the border is carrying those empty blood bags imported by the humanitarian organisation’s supplier.

“It is hard to say which border entry point they are being held at. I cannot give you the exact information without contacting our supplier,” Dibya Raj Paudel, who is the head of the Communication and Humanitarian Values Department at Nepal Red Cross Society, told on Sunday.

He said although the stalled medical supply is causing the stock of blood bag run low, the country is somehow managing because of its well-managed inventory procured before the blockade. “But we will be okay in a day or two or within this week once we receive stock from China,” Mr Paudel said in a telephonic conversation. He indicated that the organisation had to make that alternative arrangement to avert the danger of the stock going zero.

Although blood bags come to Nepal from multiple sources, India is its biggest supplier.

Just as in any other sector impacted by the blockade, which is basically every single sector in the Himalayan nation, the blockade’s effect on Nepal’s blood bank has been on many inter-connected fronts. For instance, because the Red Cross vans used in collecting blood through donation camps do not have petrol to run on, the fuel saga is now simultaneously hampering the collection of blood in the first place. The Red Cross official said that the issue is equally concerning the organisation and they are coming up with plans to address the issue immediately. But until they do, the drive to maintain blood supply is being impacted by the blockade. “People can’t travel to blood donation camps even if they want to. They don’t have time too. People are mostly busy queuing up for petrol and diesel,” Mr Paudel lamented.

Speaking at a programme on Saturday, the spokesperson of the Unified Communist Part of Nepal (Maoist) Dinanath Sharma lambasted India for its ‘inhuman treatment’ of Nepal by not allowing even trucks carrying blood bags.

“India has not honoured even normal war-time obligation by obstructing supplies of medicines, fuel and educational material, through its unofficial blockade,” the firebrand communist leader added at the press conference organised at his party headquarters in Kathmandu.

Nepal calls the disruption of the vehicular movement across the border a ‘blockade’ while India claims its vehicles cannot enter Nepal because of security concerns created by the violent Madhesi movement.

The issue has now gone global with a recent mention at the UN.


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