France sends help for Syria refugees

2012-08-09 18:06

Istres - An airliner carrying a French military medical team and supplies destined to help refugees on the Jordanian-Syrian border left France on Thursday for Amman.

Carrying 90 medical and logistics staff and 20 tons of medical aid, the A310 plane took off from the Istres air force base on France's Mediterranean coast.

A second plane carrying more medical supplies was to leave on Saturday morning.

"We're expecting a difficult mission, complicated because it's unknown. At a technical level, we have the know-how," head doctor Gerard Dosseh told journalists in Paris before departing.

"We will have to adapt ourselves to new situations every day," Dosseh said, adding that the team should be operational "at the end of the week."

The medical team can carry out up to 10 operations a day and hospitalise up to 20 patients.

President Francois Hollande's office announced the deployment on Monday, saying the decision was made with the full consent of Jordanian authorities.

Several hundred thousand Syrian refugees have sought shelter in neighbouring countries, including 120 000 who are registered with the UN refugee agency.

Many more Syrians are internally displaced.

The main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council, has urged supporters to provide aid to networks of local activists, saying such assistance is otherwise being diverted by President Bashar Assad's regime.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is to visit Jordan on 15 August.