May 25 – Iraq
Hundreds of families are fleeing from Ramadi, which has been under attack by ISIS forces for the past few days. To escape the reach of war, many are heading north where there is a growing population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). When the staff at our health clinic in the Qoratu IDP camp in Iraqi-Kurdistan received news last Thursday that the first families would be arriving the next day, they rushed to get everything ready. Friday is the day of rest for Muslims, so our clinic usually works with a reduced number of personnel, but in this special circumstance we brought in more staff to help.
The first IDPs arrived in trucks that were loaded with all their belongings. There were around 40 families – more than 200 people. “Lots more are held up at the checkpoints,” they told us, “waiting to get through and continue their journey towards a safer place.” Government sources say the number of people held up is in the thousands.
Most of the arriving IDPs are women and children. As soon as they get here, they search for an area in the shade where they can sit down and rest in order to escape the scorching sun that often raises temperatures to 40° C. They’re completely worn out and have a vacant look in their eyes as if they expected nothing more to happen for them.
We give them all a rehydrating solution and invite them to be examined by our staff at the health clinic. One of our doctors will be on hand for them whenever they need help.
While we’re telling them all this, a faint smile appears on a woman’s face and she thanks us on behalf of everyone.
To help provide immediate healthcare free of charge to refugees in Iraq escaping the war
The attack on the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul has momentarily drawn attention to what is happening in Afghanistan.
This violence shouldn’t surprise anyone, however. For years we’ve been registering an increase in the number of war victims in the country. The statistics tell a very clear story:
In 2014, the number of war victims admitted to our Surgical Centers in Kabul and Lashkar-gah was 146% higher than it was in 2010 because of the ever-increasing violence and fighting.
In that same period, the number of wounded children went up by 22%.
And the situation has gotten worse this year: from January to April 2015, there was a 39% increase in our number of admissions in comparison to the same period one year ago.
These numbers definitely do not describe a country in which “peace has been restored.”
At our Kabul hospital, we just opened a new surgery unit that is larger and better equipped. The unit contains three new operating theaters [pictured] along with intensive and sub-intensive care units in order to improve our capacity to respond to conflict-related emergencies. And, unfortunately, it is desperately needed.
To help provide free high standard surgical care to civilian casualties of the escalating violence in Afghanistan
Gulali, 12, came to our Kabul Surgical Center after stepping on a land mine.
Photo Credit: Pieter Ten Hoopen/Agence Vu
Three years ago today, The New York Times Magazine featured “Pacifists in the Cross-Fire,” a cover story by Luke Mogelson on EMERGENCY, our Kabul Surgical Center, and our commitment to treating those caught in Afghanistan’s escalating conflict. The article features input from EMERGENCY Afghanistan Medical Coordinator Luca Radaelli and profiles patients like Gulali [pictured], who came to our hospital after stepping on a land mine.
Luke Mogelson tells The New York Times Magazine that he learned about our hospitals in Afghanistan through photographer Pieter ten Hoopen, who contributed photos for the piece. Recently, ten Hoopen visited our Pediatric Centers in Central African Republic and the Mayo IDP camp in Sudan to take portraits of the patients at the centers.
To help provide lifesaving surgical care to child casualties of war in Afghanistan like Gulali
Last week on Wednesday May 6, EMERGENCY USA participated in the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery‘s launch event in Boston. Our Executive Director Eric Talbert took part in a panel entitled “The role of the press in building movements for global health: lessons for global surgery” along with Jeff Marvin and Bridget Huber. The panel was moderated by Ray Price.
Talbert brought up the 2013 Academy Award nominated short documentary Open Heart as an example of global surgery media that can capture hearts and motivate people to action. Open Heart tells the story of eight Rwandan children who leave their families behind and embark on a life-or-death journey to receive high-risk open-heart surgery in Africa’s only free-of-charge, state-of-the-art cardiac hospital, our Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan.
Click here for videos of all the day’s panels on Lancet Global Surgery’s Youtube Page.
Click here to learn more about Open Heart and download a free study guide.
We’d like to thank the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery for inviting us to be a part of this exciting event and everyone who contributed to the discussion. The launch made a measurable impact on social media and was covered by over 110 news agencies.
Adnan’s eyes glistened with tears when he told us his story.
For him, medicine is more than a practice: it’s his life. He’s been treating people for 40 years and now he’s working alongside our staff in Qoratu, Iraq, in one of the clinics that we’ve set up in Iraqi Kurdistan for refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) fleeing war.
One day, while we were working in the mobile clinic, he lowered his voice and shared his story: “It was about nine months ago,” he told us. “A day just like any other. I’d finished seeing my patients in Jalawla, my home city. For many of them I’d made appointments for further examinations on the next day, but that same evening the fighting arrived right on our doorstep. My wife, my four children and I had to escape immediately, leaving behind everything: home, hospital, patients…Jalawla is now a ghost town without electricity or water. Nobody lives there any more.”
Adnan now lives as a refugee in a little town near Kalar. Every day he comes here to our Qoratu clinic to help treat the many people in need. He welcomes everyone with a kind word and a smile; the war has taken many things from him, but it hasn’t managed to take away his human dignity and his sense of solidarity. For all of us, working with him day after day is a continual learning experience. Thank you, Doctor Adnan.
To help support refugees in Iraq and local staff like Dr. Adnan who work tirelessly to deliver proper healthcare to their communities around the world