ARC, Minn. hospitals deliver medical supplies to Congo - New York News

ARC, Minn. hospitals deliver medical supplies to Congo

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Life-saving medical supplies and hope have been delivered to a sub-Saharan country where both are in short supply -- and all of that is coming from Minnesota.

For many Americans, the nation of Congo is a spot on the map, but it may also be the site of the world's next humanitarian crisis.

Graham Eastmond has recorded proof of how the Congolese refugee camps are growing by the day.

"The situation is: Since April, there's been about 500,000 people that have left their homes and have set up a temporary home somewhere else," he explained.

Eastmond has just returned from his mission to help those seeking refuge as a humanitarian aid coordinator with the Twin Cities-based American Refugee Committee. He was in Goma, where refugees deep in the Congo are taking refuge inside a school. They sleep on and under benches at night. Whatever is left over is burned for heat.

The camps are full of hatched huts, but those don't provide much protection from the monsoons.

"As you can see, that kind of shelter is not going to provide shelter to these children whatsoever," Eastmond said.

That's part of why Eastmond and ARC met with doctors at a partnering organization called Heal Africa. They brought badly-needed medical supplies donated by United Hospitals and Park Nicollet in the metro.

"They treat a lot of wounded from the conflict," Eastmond said. "While we were there, we saw many, many cases of gunshot wounds and shrapnel wounds. So, we brought people antibiotics and surgical supplies that they desperately needed."

That's because the civil war is taking a significant toll. The New York Times' East African bureau chief wrote on Sunday that "Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II with more than 5 million dead."

That's why ARC is trying to help build assessment centers and raise awareness on how the rest of the world can help.

"I encourage people to read about it and look into who's working there and support those people," Eastmond said, adding that he plans to return to the Congo in just a few weeks.

Eastman said the need is very great. One camp they visited on a Friday was housing about 3,000 families -- but by Sunday night, it had swelled to 100,000.

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