News

April 9th, 2014

Afghanistan

The words say "EMERGENCY HOSPITAL". The message is "Don't bomb, please". This is the sign we've put on the roof of our new First Aid Post (FAP) in Urmuz, Afghanistan, to let the pilots of drones and planes know it's a place of medical treatment. To ask for respect for our patients and our personnel. The sign in Urmuz isn't the only one: there are similar signs on the roofs of all our facilities in this country.

Sign in Urmuz

We'd dearly love for there to be a huge sign over the whole of Afghanistan: "Don't bomb, please." And for it to be respected.

April 8th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Two-month old Jaid arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique on Thursday night, with a machete wound. His family had been attacked by the Anti-balaka while they were sleeping; his mother tried to get him to safety but, as she was running, they were hit. Luckily Jaid isn't in a serious condition.

Jaid

Marina, EMERGENCY Nurse at the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui, Central African Republic

April 7th, 2014

Afghanistan

On Saturday, April 5th, 2014 Afghanistan voted for its new President. Unfortunately, in our hospitals, we saw the same old country: full of blood, with the innocent paying the highest price.

During the day, our Lashkar-gah Surgical Centre took in 7 women (one of them pregnant) and 6 children. All of them war victims.

Lashkar-Gah Surgical Center

The number of patients at our surgical centre in Kabul was 15, including 4 women and 2 children.

April 3rd, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Bangui and the Central African Republic are still living in a state of uncertainty.

The presence of the Chad military contingent, here to escort Muslim civilians out of Bangui, has increased the level of tension even further.

Far from the capital, the situation is out of control. A few days ago, from a village about 200km away, a 2-year old child arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique with gunshot wounds. He'd been in the forest with his father when a bullet hit both of them, killing the man and seriously injuring little Dieumerci in the jaw.

Dieumerci

The child stayed next to his father's body for some days, alone, without food or medical treatment.

When he arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique, his condition was precarious but now, after a series of surgical interventions, he's out of danger. Dieumerci's face will remain disfigured forever though.

Federico Bozzetti, EMERGENCY Surgeon at the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui

April 1st, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Yesterday and today things seemed quieter in the city center, but shooting continues in the neighbourhoods of PK11 and PK12, day in day out.

On Saturday, soldiers from Chad arrived in the city to evacuate the last citizens from Chad left in the refugee camps.

As they entered the city, they fired on the crowd for no apparent reason: 20 people were killed.

The unexpected arrival of the soldiers from Chad rekindled the anger of the Anti-balaka, and this morning the security committee that oversees all the NGOs recommended we limit all our movements in the northern part of the city because of possible riots linked to the departure of the military convoy.

We're still working hard at our Paediatric Centre and at the Complexe Pédiatrique. The number of children arriving in serious - often incurable - conditions continues to rise.

There's no free healthcare, especially outside the city: the sick and wounded have to face long, demanding journeys to get to our centre.

A mother arrived today with her child: disabled, she'd pedalled 100 kilometres - from Mbaiki to Bangui - on a three-wheeled bike to bring us her daughter who'd been ill for many days.

At 3 o'clock she set off home - another 100km to get back to Mbaiki.

The difficulty in getting access to free treatment leads parents to enlist the help of local healers too: we often have to treat children intoxicated or burnt as a result of traditional "cures".

This is another consequence of poverty and war.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic 

March 28th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Yesterday was quiet in Bangui but, as usual, the peace lasted less than 24 hours.

This morning we were woken by the sound of far-off shooting: it was coming from Fatima, an area to the south-east of the capital. A Christian wake was targeted by grenades launched by groups of Muslims. It seems there were many wounded and around a dozen killed.

An 11-year old girl arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique with arm and leg injuries caused by grenade splinters. Her two sisters and her mother are dead.

Now everyone's afraid there'll be a new upsurge of violence and retaliation.

In these conditions, it's very hard for us to get around. After assessing the safety situation today, we decided to go back to the refugee camp as planned, but crossing markets packed with agitated people and seeing overloaded taxis being stopped always creates some anxiety among our staff when they're trying to move around. And the unpredictability of what might happen only adds extra tension.

We examined around ninety children in the camp. Three of them were in a serious condition so we transferred them to the Paediatric Centre where they'll be able to get the necessary treatment.

A pregnant girl told us she'd been raped about 6 months ago; since then she's never received any medical care so we decided to take her to the clinic for a prenatal check-up. Conditions in the camp are hard. The number of inhabitants has doubled in the last few days, reaching a figure of 10,000.

In the Paediatric Centre too, we're still examining lots of children: today there were over 100.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic 

March 27th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

This city and this country are unpredictable.

After days on maximum alert, today the situation seemed calmer: lots of soldiers on the streets and more cars around.

This relative "quiet" meant we were able to get out of the city and see what was happening in one of the refugee camps.

We never know what to expect from one day to the next, so as soon as there's any sign of stability we make the most of it to understand the needs outside the city; in some camps, the presence of health personnel isn't always possible for safety reasons.

As soon as our car approached the camp, hordes of children began running towards us.

We examined around a hundred of them, many suffering from malaria, pneumonia and gastrointestinal infections.

We always come across the same serious illnesses, so common here: it's hard not to get ill if you haven't have a roof over your head, or a mosquito net, or running water. Yesterday's heavy rains didn't help things either.

There were more patients today at the Paediatric Centre too. Among them were twins boys born just a few days ago - one with pneumonia and the other neonatal sepsis.

As we watch them breathe with difficulty, we can't help thinking that there's no free neonatal care in this entire country.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

March 26th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

It's unnaturally quiet in Bangui today. The shooting is less frequent and patrols have increased, but there are still few people out on the streets. For some days now, the two main access roads into the city have been blocked by the Antibalaka; just a few hundred metres from our Paediatric Centre, heading towards the outskirts, cars are stopped at the makeshift barricades controlled by armed men. Taxis get within maybe a hundred metres and stop, offloading their passengers before making a U-turn. The market in PK5, the most important of the city, is deserted. We used to go there regularly for our supplies, but we can't even get close to it now.

Whole neighbourhoods seem empty, like ghost towns. The people are again seeking shelter in the refugee camps or with relatives who live outside the city. From the early afternoon on, the roads are deserted; people head back home early to avoid whatever might happen. Today, like in the past few days, there've been very few patients at the Paediatric Centre; by 3 o'clock, only 45 children had been examined at our First Aid Post. It's even difficult to discharge patients, as there are no taxis available and the mothers sometimes have to walk miles to reach their homes. We took in a 4-year old boy today. He's got a serious anaemia and is very poor conditions; fear prevented his parents from bringing him to us sooner.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

March 24th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

In Bangui the tension of the past few days shows no signs of diminishing: Muslims and Antibalaka continue to fight, and there are many deaths. Just last night there was an attack on PK5, a neighbourhood with a high concentration of Muslims.

Kids in Bangui

The Antibalaka are barricading the city so they can control all the roads. The refugee and displaced persons camps are filling up again: people are afraid of what could happen, and search for protection in numbers. In this situation of total uncertainty, movements are kept to a minimum; we can see it at our Pediatric Centre too - this morning there are only 30 patients, whereas on Mondays there are usually around 150. 

Exactly one year on from the coup d'état and Michel Djotodia's self-proclamation as president (the head of the Seleka subsequently resigned in January), the Central African Republic is still a country without peace and, as always, the first victims are the civilians: women, children and men killed or wounded by the war and its consequences - hardship, poverty, lack of food, difficulty in getting even the most basic treatment and services.

March 24th, 2014

Afghanistan

Urmuz is in the district of Nawazad in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It's basically just a group of houses in the desert, where the inhabitants of what was once the village of Nawazad have taken refuge, in the hope of escaping the fighting and abuse of power that is scourging the area.

FAP in Urmuz

It's here that we've opened our new First Aid Post (FAP) to help the people of this new village, where every type of service is lacking.

At the FAP, our personnel (all local people, trained by EMERGENCY) will provide healthcare and emergency treatment for the most seriously wounded, who we'll then be transfer by ambulance to our hospital in Lashkar-gah. This new FAP takes its place with the other 30-plus that we've opened in Afghanistan to offer aid to people in even the most remote villages, or those without any free healthcare facilities, and to create a system whereby patients in the most serious conditions can be brought to our hospitals.

March 23rd, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

There were violent clashes between Seleka and Antibalaka yesterday in PK5.

No official figures are known, but there's talk of dozens of corpses in the streets. PK5 is one of the hardest hit areas of Bangui: there's been no let-up in the fighting here.

"I'd rather sleep in the hospital" one of the guards at the Paediatric Centre told us a few days ago: he lives in PK5 and he's afraid to go home.

March 22nd, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Fighting continues in Bangui, especially in the areas on the outskirts of the city.

But yesterday skirmishes broke out near our paediatric clinic too, in the heart of the city.

Five kids arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique with leg and foot wounds from firearms and grenades.

One was taken straight to the operating theatre, while the others were treated and came back today for a check-up: they're doing fine.

Soon after, a 10-year old boy came in. He'd been injured the previous evening by a bullet to his abdomen and leg. He'd lost a lot of blood. We operated on him straight away and he's now in intensive care.

Another boy of the same age arrived a short time later, his face covered in blood: he'd been next to his brother, who was working, when a bullet struck his lower jaw and chin.

One day in the hospital of Bangui, in the Central African Republic.

March 21st, 2014

Kabul, Afghanistan

Attach on the Serena Hotel – Two Wounded Brought to the EMERGENCY Hospital.

Yesterday evening, armed men attacked the Serena Hotel in Kabul - a point of reference for international visitors to the country.

There's talk of nine people killed - five Afghans and four foreigners. In the night, two of the wounded arrived at the EMERGENCY Surgical Center in Kabul: a man who wasn't seriously injured (we treated him in the clinic, and then discharged him), and a 4-year old child with a serious head wound. He was brought in on his own: it seems his relatives were killed in the attack.

Our surgeons operated on him in the night, and now he's in intensive care. We're looking after him, but his condition is serious so it'll be a few days before we know for sure whether he's out of danger.

EMERGENCY Surgical Center in Kabul

EMERGENCY Surgical Center in Kabul

 

March 16th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"Pauline, the child from Boda that we operated on about 10 days ago, is gradually recovering. She has a long way to go before she'll be fully back to normal, but she's getting better.

When she was brought to the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui - where she had her operation - she was in a coma as a result of a machete wound to her head.

Over the past few days we've been trying to trace her relatives in Boda. We'd been told that her parents were dead, but it seems they're actually alive and hiding in the forest to escape the fighting.

We know it won't be easy to reunite the family, but we'll do everything we can.

Be brave Pauline - perhaps the worst is behind you now."

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

March 14th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"The displaced persons camp where we work is almost empty now.

Those who could, have left the country, while the others are moving into the city: conditions in the camp are absolutely unbearable.

For some though, leaving is the end rather than the beginning of their journey.

A few days ago, two couples left for Cameroon with their children.

They didn't get far: just a short distance from the camp, their car was stopped by armed men. They spared the women and children, but killed the two men."

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

March 6th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"He comes from Boye, just outside Bangui.

Yvef is 6 years old. His father brought him to the Pediatric Centre about 10 days ago.

Yvef 6 years old

He was tired and fatigued, with a swollen face and eyes; his father told us he'd lost a lot of weight. They come from a rural area, where they've probably borne the brunt of this war: fighting, fear and hunger.

But it's not only malnutrition that's making the child ill: after some tests, we discovered he has juvenile insulin-dependent diabetes. 

We're treating him and he's feeling better, but we can't help thinking about the day when he'll have to be discharged. We'll have to establish insulin therapy, but he doesn’t have a fridge. We'll have to recommend a special diet, but we don't know if his family will be able to find the food. We don't even know where he'll go, or whether he'll still have a house".

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

March 4th, 2014

Goderich, Sierra Leone

"Over 30 patients arrived in just a few minutes at our Surgery Center in Sierra Leone last Thursday. These injuries were from a road accident on Hill Cut, a road which leads down the hill into Freetown. 

The wounded were travelling on the rear load area of a truck belonging to a road construction firm, when the driver lost control of the vehicle. It’s estimated that there were 50 to 80 people on the truck. Some say the accident was caused by an exploding tire, while others think it was due to brake failure. In any case, the vehicle overturned as it was coming downhill, hurling out its "passengers" and injuring passers-by as well.

As soon as we found out that a large number of injured were coming in, we activated our mass casualty protocol so we'd be ready to manage the emergency in the best possible way. The patients included serious multiple-trauma victims and patients with broken bones. Others - the luckier ones - got away with simple contusions. We had to set up some beds in the corridor for the temporary hospitalisation and observation of some patients who couldn't be discharged or transferred: so many people arrived that there weren't enough free beds in the wards."

Marco, EMERGENCY surgeon in Goderich, Sierra Leone

March 2nd, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

In the Muslim refugee camp near the airport in Bangui, where we've been working for the past two months, there are now just 400 people: the Chad refugees have been sent back to their country and the Central African Muslims are gradually being transferred to the city.

The aim is to clear out the refugee camps and the big mosque, where the Muslims have been gathering since the outbreak of the latest attacks, and transfer them to other places in the city, where living and safety conditions should be better. None of them want to go back to their homes: they still feel too afraid and too uncertain about the future.

As long as there are still people living in the camp, we'll keep on coming here to treat the children and newborn babies: there are just a few now, so we're able to monitor them between one check-up and the next, intervening as soon as it's necessary. They're completely exhausted: there's no food, no clean water, no toilet facilities and, above all, no certainty for the future.

February 26th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Since the removal of the president, Djotodia, hostilities against Muslim citizens have become increasingly violent.

For fear of reprisals, the Muslims of Bangui have taken refuge in the big mosque in the PK12 area, and in one of the refugee camps that sprang up near the airport at the beginning of the conflict.

In all the camps, living conditions are bordering on mere survival: there's little water, little food and no shelter. Even just getting to the camp, where we've been treating children up to the age of 14 for the past two months has become very hard. On the road to the airport, skirmishes between the Anti-balaka and the Misca troops are a daily occurrence and vehicles (even those used by humanitarian workers) are stopped at the temporary checkpoints to see whether there are any Muslims inside.

For them, getting access to health treatment is now extremely difficult. They're afraid even to go to the hospitals because they feel they're under fire, and refuse to move any distance from their communities.

Pediatric Center

Our staff in Bangui has been working tirelessly for months.

Our Pediatric Center is now the reference hospital for all emergencies. All the beds are constantly occupied, so we've added more room in the clinics.

At the Complexe Pédiatrique, where the EMERGENCY war surgery team has been working for nearly a year, two children have arrived in these last two days with wounds from stray bullets. A third had a serious infection: he'd been injured more than a month ago during shooting in a village in the north, but his wounds had been neglected. He was given the initial, urgent treatment and is now waiting for his operation, scheduled for tomorrow. He'll be with us for a few weeks.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

February 19th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is facing a devastating humanitarian crisis, and the first victims are its children.

Fighting is still continuing in the villages of the north: thousands of people have escaped to the woods in an attempt to find shelter from the violence, and lorries packed with civilians are leaving the cities of Bouar, Bouca, Berberati, Bocaranga and Bossangoa, heading for the capital or towards Cameroon and Chad.

While the skirmishes between the Antibalaka groups and Miska troops continue, the Muslims have left the city of Bangui or taken refuge in the camps. "At 10 o'clock last night, two lorries arrived at the refugee camp near the airport where we've been working for the past two months. They were carrying 500 people fleeing from the PK20. Among them were 5 children, already dead. New refugees continue to flood in. Every day we treat at least a hundred children and, over the past week, we've vaccinated 800," says Ombretta Pasotti, coordinator of EMERGENCY 's program in the Central African Republic.

Humanitarian aid is scarce and it has trouble getting through to the people; improvised checkpoints hamper the transportation of the wounded.

The lack of security limits civilians' access to treatment because they're afraid to make the journey, and fear for their safety even in the city hospitals. 

Our doctors are working tirelessly in our Pediatric Center and the public hospital too. Children arrive at our Pediatric Center in increasingly critical conditions: they come from the refugee camps, where the appalling hygiene and lack of food and water are deteriorating the already highly vulnerable state of health of these people. 

Our Pediatric Center (the only one in the city offering advanced healthcare) is also the point of reference for the other organisations providing basic treatment in the city; they send us all their patients in particularly serious condition, especially those suffering from malaria, anaemia, meningitis and osteomyelitis.

EMERGENCY's surgical team continues to work at the Complexe Pédiatrique (the public hospital) as well. Since arriving there last March, the group has performed operations on 143 children who are victims of war.

February 12th, 2014

Kabul, Afghanistan

Civilian victims in Afghanistan are increasing.

2013 was the worst year ever for the Afghan population since the beginning of the war, 13 years ago.

The EMERGENCY Surgical Centres in Kabul and Lashkar-Gah, the main city in the Helmand region, admitted 4,317 patients with war wounds, around 12 war casualties per day 365 days a year, a total of 38% more than in 2012 and 60% more than in 2011.

Of these, 2,183 had bullet wounds, 1,037 had been hit by shrapnel and 613 were injured by landmines.

As usual, women and children account for more than a third of the casualties: in 2013, a total of 784 children and 668 women were admitted for medical care.

February 8th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"We've examined 130 children today in our mobile clinic, and transferred 15 of them (including 9 newborn babies) to our Pediatric Center.

After the morning examinations, 20 lorries arrived at the refugee camp packed with people escaping from the southern part of the country.

We did a quick triage on the 1000 children. One baby, born just half an hour before beginning the journey, is now with his mother in our clinic so they can rest for a while in a clean and safe place.

At Complexe Pédiatrique, the main hospital where our surgical team is, 3 children under the age of 5 came in with grenade shrapnel wounds.

The war in the Central African Republic continues, amid general indifference. We go on working."

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

February 5th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"The reprisals are continuing in Bangui, especially in the areas of Combattant and Miskine, outside the city itself. The real fighting has moved to the northern provinces though, and that's where the new refugees are flooding in from.

They've arrived in their thousands in the camp near the airport, where we were already working, and many more have taken shelter in other garrisoned parts of the city.

We're still providing healthcare for the children in the refugee camps; they live in terrible hygiene conditions, without clean water or toilet facilities.

We're also providing the initial treatment for babies born prematurely - an everyday occurrence in the camps. We carry out a check-up and administer vitamin K and the first vaccinations, then transfer them to the public hospital.

The Paediatric Centre is working hard, with around a hundred examinations a day.

Even though the situation in the city is now calmer, the shelves of the few shops that are still open are almost empty: due to safety-related problems, supplies from Cameroon have been delayed. There's a lack of food (especially meat) and what is available has become much more expensive; in the last few days, a 50-kg bag of rice has gone from 50 to 80 thousand franks".

Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

EMERGENCY Clinic in Bangui

January 31, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

We thought the nomination of the President and the new ministers would have brought a bit of calm to the Central African Republic, but that hasn't been the case.

Fighting is still going on in the areas near the airport: Miskine, Combattant and Avenue de France are the most dangerous neighbourhoods, along with those to the north of the city.

The streets are still unsafe, and it's getting more and more difficult for us to reach the refugee camps where we're treating children who are living in conditions of basic survival.

On Wednesday alone, the Complexe Pédiatrique treated 7 children with wounds caused by knives and grenades. One of them had a superficial bullet wound.

None of them were in serious condition, but the fact that children have to experience all this is extremely serious in itself.

Every day we see wounded, refugees, people escaping; this country has been living in fear for too long."

January 28, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

The nomination of the President last week seemed to have a positive effect on general safety conditions, but within the past few days, the level of violence has soared again: armed skirmishes and looting are now daily occurrences in every part of the city.

The war between armed groups has triggered outbreaks of violence even amongst civilians: there are lynchings in the streets, and cars blocked for no reason by men armed with machetes and clubs.

The people are afraid. Many are fleeing in the hope of finding refuge in the quieter provinces. We've also lost some members of our local staff, who've decided to leave the country along with their families, heading for Cameroon and Chad.

Yesterday we heard grenades and explosions close to EMERGENCY's Pediatric Center, opposite the parliament building.

So far, there've been about 20 deaths, but we don't know how many people have been wounded - none have arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique, but perhaps they're unable to reach the hospital.

EMERGENCY continues to provide free healthcare for the children of Bangui in our Pediatric Center, opened in 2009, and with a war surgery team at the Complexe Pédiatrique. We're also working in two refugee camps near the airport and at PK13, where there are hundreds of children in need of medical care.

January 23, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Today in Bangui, the Central African Republic's new president was sworn in, but the situation in the country remains very difficult, as the fighting continues.

The beds of our Pediatric Clinic and at the Complexe Pédiatrique are always full: last week 7 children arrived, who were injured by gunshots and machetes. Our team is continuing to support the surgical emergencies that come from Bangui and the surrounding area.

Yesterday Arthur returned home. He arrived at the hospital accompanied by a boy, who had found him in the street, wounded and unconscious. He recovered quickly after the operation, but could not be released as we did not know who his parents were, nor whether they were still alive.

After 15 days, a member of our national staff heard on the radio of a mother, who was looking for her missing son: the name and the description left no doubt, that it was Arthur. We contacted her, reassuring her about the condition of her son, between tears of joy and giving thanks. The family was reunited shortly afterwards.

In a country where one in five people had to flee their home, we could not help but think of how many other families are still trying to find each other.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY  Program Coordinator Central African Republic

January 16, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

In Bangui our staff is doing everything they can. Over the past few days, the flow of patients to the Pediatric Clinic has returned to normal. People have started getting out and about again, after days of staying shut in at home and not even venturing out to the hospital because of the fighting.

We've seen a steep increase in the number of admissions: there are children needing urgent treatment for malaria, anemia and breathing infections that weren't treated during the time of the fighting. To increase the number of beds, we've started using a tent as a temporary structure where we can deal with the most serious cases.

The situation is still unpredictable: last night the fighting claimed at least 7 victims.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY  Program Coordinator Central African Republic

January 12, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

"The situation is still extremely tense in Bangui. We haven't heard any more shooting over the past few hours, but the streets are still deserted: in this atmosphere of uncertainty, people are afraid to leave their homes and are just waiting to see what happens.

As soon as the safety conditions allowed it, we went to the camp where the refugees from Chad are waiting to be sent back to their country. There are still thousands of them, encamped in a large clearing between the unused aircraft.

When they saw us coming, the mothers and children - so many children - started queuing up to wait their turn: we're the only ones providing medical treatment here, and the need is huge".

Ombretta, EMERGENCY  Program Coordinator Central African Republic

January 10, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

The situation in Bangui, CAR, is getting worse, "Anything can happen" says Ombretta, Program Coordinator in the Central African Republic.

Today there've been demonstrations throughout the city, along with the announcement of the resignation of the President and Prime Minister.

The airport was closed all morning as the runway was occupied by thousands of people.

Civilians are abandoning their homes in an attempt to escape the raids and violence.

EMERGENCY continues to provide free healthcare for the children of Bangui in the pediatric clinic it opened in 2009, and with a war surgery team at the Complexe Pédiatrique.

EMERGENCY is also working in one of the refugee camps that have sprung up near the airport and the PK13 area, where there are hundreds of children receiving no assistance at all.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY  Program Coordinator Central African Republic

January 7, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

According to data from international agencies, the refugees of the war in the Central African Republic are nearly a million out of a population of 4 million and six hundred thousand people. Many have found refuge in camps around Bangui, the capital, and some - especially foreigners - are trying to leave the country.  

Near the airport separated from the main camp, there is another camp of thousands of Chadian civilians awaiting repatriation. In a large dirt clearing occupied by unused airplanes, there are people camped between cartons and plastic sheeting with no water nor toilets. They have waited there for twenty days without any kind of assistance. For health care services, we are the first physicians to enter the field.  

We seek shelter from the sun under the wing of a plane and begin visits. The living conditions in the camp have encouraged the spread of skin infections and outbreaks of gastroenteritis. At four o'clock, we left the field because of curfew and will be back tomorrow.  

Victoria, EMERGENCY Pediatrician

January 5, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Because of the insecurity of roads in Bangui, access to treatment is always very difficult. In villages around the capital, the situation is even more critical: a few tens of kilometres from the town, there are people who have been wounded in clashes in early December that have not yet seen a doctor.

This morning we were in one of the small villages along the river. A group of people had just arrived, they were sheltering in a clay house, where on a mat was lying a child who could not move the right side of his body. Not far away we visited an older boy who walked with difficulty, dragging one leg wrapped in a cloth.

Now they're both at the Complexe Pédiatrique.

The older boy has a fracture, which fortunately has not been affected by his month long wait: we clean it, and plaster it and in a few weeks we will know whether there is any permanent damage.

However, we can do little for the child: hemiplegia is caused by a sliver of grenade penetrated into the head. With a lot of physiotherapy his limb mobility could improve, but he will continue treatment when he is discharged from the hospital.

Ombretta, EMERGENCY  Program Coordinator Central African Republic

December 26, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

Today four children arrived at the Pediatric Clinic. They were hit by shrapnel while they were on the road in a suburb north of the city.

Yesterday we received a child wounded by a bullet in another district: we brought the child into the operating room and they are now out of danger.

In the last month we have operated on more than 30 children injured by gunfire, rockets, grenades and machetes.

"When they arrive at the Complexe Pédiatrique often children no longer have parents. Nobody waits outside the operating room."

Mohsin, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic

December 23, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

There is fighting near to the airport and PK5, but there are also clashes throughout the city, near our pediatric center.

Our work is becoming increasingly difficult.

We are working long hours because the national staff has serious difficulties in reaching the hospital due to the danger on the roads. For the same reason very few patients are arriving: even the humanitarian organisations that brought the sick to our clinic two days ago have temporarily suspended transport in some areas of the city for safety reasons.

The Complexe Pédiatrique Kinderchirurgie, the public hospital where our surgical team works, is full but we cannot discharge patients because they would not be able to reach their places of origin.

Also supplies have become sparse and difficult to access. We have stocked up on food for our patients and the staff of the pediatric clinic. For a few days we are also supplying the public hospital that has asked for food.

December 19, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

On Thursday night, the 19th of December, conflict broke out in Bangui. The streets are deserted; only French military tanks and the Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC) are out patrolling the streets.

It is still dangerous to go out into the streets; many of the national staff were unable to reach the hospital for fear of leaving their houses, which is also why very few patients have reached us. Over the past few weeks this war caused more than 600 deaths, and there are approximately 40,000 people looking for protection near the airport and protection from the military tanks in the city.

On Thursday, we started working in PK13, an area some 13 kilometres from Bangui where many internally displaced persons from neighbouring villages have gathered. Many of the children are suffering from malaria and malnourishment. We seek to provide them with immediate treatment, although in very severe cases transfer them to our pediatric clinic in Bangui where they can receive further care.

December 11, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

In most parts of the city the situation has apparently stabilized. No more gunshots, some shops have re-opened, people have started to go out on the streets again.

As of yesterday, we have started receiving more patients in our pediatric center. They are mainly children in need of urgent healthcare for malaria and infections to the respiratory system, untreated because of the fighting.

Today we received approximately 40 children. We usually treat about 100 children per day. However, people coming from outside the capital are still very frightened to face a potentially dangerous journey to our hospital. They don’t feel safe yet.

Massimo, EMERGENCY Logistician Central African Republic

December 9, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

The situation in Bangui, the Central African Republic's capital, is increasingly dramatic.

While the French troops step up their patrolling of main streets, we hear of house searches with men and boys as targets. At the border of the main streets, dead bodies still lay uncovered. 

The EMERGENCY surgical team is working at Complexe Pédiatrique, the public hospital in the capital, where thirty children are recovering after having undergone surgery in the past few days. 

EMERGENCY's doctors are the only ones operating in the hospital: the local staff cannot reach the hospital due to safety concerns. Everybody is scared of taking any trip in this chaotic context. 

The Paedriatric Centre of EMERGENCY also continues to operate. This morning, soon after the end of the curfew, some mothers and members of the local staff based not far from the hospital have managed to reach it on foot. 

Some civilians have found asylum in the center to escape the recent fightings. 

EMERGENCY has been in Central African Republic since 2009 with a Pediatric Centre offering free health care to children up to 14 years old. Since March 2013, right after the coup d’état, a team from EMERGENCY specialised in medical surgery started working at the Complexe Pédiatrique, the only public pediatric hospital of the country. The EMERGENCY team has reactivated the operating theatres and continue to perform surgical activities.

December 5, 2013

Bangui, Central African Republic

In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, fighting has been going on since this morning.
  The shots can be heard from EMERGENCY's pediatric center, just opposite the parliament building.
 Due to the skirmishes, this morning the war surgery team that works at the Complexe Pédiatrique was unable to reach the hospital that, two days ago, took in the children wounded during an attack on a Muslim community to the north of Bangui.

Additional updates from Bangui, CAR:

MASSACRE OF CHILDREN IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - THE WOUNDED BROUGHT TO THE EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

On Tuesday morning at the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui where the EMERGENCY team works, 10 children were brought in.
 They had wounds all over their bodies.

They belong to the Peuls ethnic group - Muslim nomads who live about 90 kilometers from Bangui.

They told us how they'd first been shut in a house, and then taken outside, lined up in a row and struck with machetes. Some of them have wounds from firearms.

We operated on them straight away: ten children, aged between 1 and 10. Carnage. Now they're in our ward, but the only people with them are our personnel; their parents were killed or wounded during the attack.



Update - Wednesday December 4th: the children are responding well to the treatment, but their wounds are extremely serious and we can't yet consider them out of danger.

 

November 7, 2013

TAMassociati/Emergency Wins 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize

San Francisco, CA: TAMassociati/Emergency has won the 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize. Today, the Curry Stone Foundation named three winners of the 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize: Hunnarshala (Bhuj, India), Proximity Designs (Yangon, Myanmar), and StudioTAMassociati/Emergency (Venice/Milan, Italy). Principals from each organization will participate in a two-day awards ceremony and presentation in partnership with Design Like You Give A Damn Live!, a design conference. The awards ceremony will be held this evening at 7:30PM at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. The conference continues tomorrow with presentations by all three winners beginning at 12:30PM at the Autodesk Gallery, San Francisco.

The annual prize, in its sixth year, is one of the most recognized social impact design awards, celebrating socially engaged practitioners and the influence and reach of design as a force for improving lives and strengthening communities. The Curry Stone Foundation awards $120,000 per year. For the past two years, the amount has been divided equally among the Prize winners.

Each winner will receive a no-strings-attached grant; winners are also the subjects of short documentary films produced by the Curry Stone Foundation. All films will be premiered at the awards ceremony on Nov. 7th and released online the following day. The Curry Stone Design Prize films, past and present, are shared on many digital channels including the Prize’s website, IDEO, Public Interest Design, and YouTube.

"The Prize is dedicated to telling the stories of our winners," said Chee Pearlman, Prize Curator. "Through the medium of short documentaries, we're able to spread the word about vibrant, groundbreaking practices that may not otherwise be revealed." 

Studio TAMassociati is an Italian consortium of architects recognized for designing health-care facilities in war-torn and critical areas. TAM champions human rights–based design in partnership with Emergency, an International NGO founded in Italy that provides medical treatment to victims of war and poverty. The decade-long collaboration of the two organizations has resulted in a replicable model for free, high-quality healthcare and educational facilities in several countries. Together, TAM and Emergency have opened five hospitals on the African continent, facilities that have treated more than 700,000 patients. In addition, as an extension of their efforts to treat civilians affected by war, they have collaborated on seven clinics in Italy—four of which are mobile units—to provide healthcare to refugees.

Emergency’s humanitarian projects strive to provide an oasis of neutrality in conflict zones. They currently run projects in Sudan, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Iraq, Afghanistan and Italy. Their doctors deliver quality care regardless of the patient’s socioeconomic status. Emergency’s goal is to create clinics that meet—if not exceed—Western standards while respecting local traditions. TAM translates the mission of Emergency into architectural reality.

TAM builds beautiful, sustainable, and modern buildings in some of the poorest and most dangerous places on earth. The firm’s pragmatic approach to design makes maximum use of local materials and knowledge, resulting in culturally relevant details and the invention of unique solutions to keep energy costs low in extreme climates.

About the Curry Stone Design Prize

The Curry Stone Design Prize was founded in 2008 by Clifford Curry and Delight Stone to recognize designers who address urgent social issues. It was established with the belief that design can be a critical force to create positive social transformations and empower local communities. Its goal is to make the talents of social impact designers available to a broader audience and inspire the next generation of designers to harness their ingenuity and craft for social good. Each winner receives a cash prize and is the subject of a short documentary about their work.

Nominees for the Curry Stone Design Prize are selected by an anonymous, rotating group of social impact leaders representing broad fields of design, as well as humanitarian advocates from related disciplines. Emphasis is placed on emerging projects and ideas that may not have yet been taken to scale.

The 2013 guest jurors include John Cary, executive director of the Autodesk Impact Design Foundation; N’Goné Fall, curator, art critic, educator, and a founding member of the Dakar-based new media collective GawLab; Rahul Mehrotra, chair of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Damon Rich, founder of CUP (winner of the 2012 CSDP), and planning director and chief urban designer for the City of Newark, New Jersey.

Media Contacts:

Diana Bianchini
Di Moda Public Relations
310-2880077
diana@dimodapr.com

Eric Talbert
Emergency USA
888-501-3872
eric.talbert@emergencyusa.org

 

September 6th, 2013

Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery: EMERGENCY's Center of Excellence in the Sudan is One of Five Projects Awarded the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Lisbon, Portugal: Five recipients were announced for the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, a project designed by Studio Tamassociati of Venice, Italy was one of those selected. Awarded every three years, the prize of one million U.S. dollars will be apportioned amongst the five recipients according to the Master Jury's discretion.

The award recognizes examples of excellence in a variety of contemporary design disciplines -- all manner of projects that affect today's built environment, particulary those that improve quality of life. The Master Jury observed that the project brought together "stakeholders and local craftsmen into a process of healing that is not merely physical but that is social, economic and political."  To read more, click here.

We at EMERGENCY USA express our congratulations to the architect Raul Pantaleo, and his team, with recognition and appreciation of the essential role that the hospital (and compound) design plays in the lifesaving work of EMERGENCY at the Salam Centre. We are proud that such an important award has been given to EMERGENCY and that the cooperation with TAM has been so succesful.

 

August 29, 2013

EMERGENCY USA Joins EMERGENCY in Defending Human Rights:  A Peace Process is Essential for Citizens of Syria

“Here, then, is the problem which we present to you: stark and dreadful and inescapable. Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”  Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, 1955

Almost 60 years have passed since eleven of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century signed the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, and world leaders have yet to take heed and renounce war in favor of non-violent resolution of conflict.  Recent media coverage and images of the anguish suffered by people in Syria have rightfully awakened public concern.  Very unfortunately, military intervention is once again being presented as the only option to end the conflict.

War is not the only option.  EMERGENCY’s personnel witnessed firsthand -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya -- that warring “for peace” actually fuels more violence.  At the surgical and medical facilities treating the victims, clinical teams consistently witness the fact that during contemporary military conflicts, 90% of those who are wounded or killed are children, women and unarmed men. The bottom line is that with any acceleration of firepower, countless numbers of civilians suffer injuries and lose their lives.

At this moment, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing Syria to seek shelter in nearby countries.  Some have arrived in Sicily, where  doctors of EMERGENCY are providing first aid and care to any in need amongst the refugees landing on the Italian coast.

EMERGENCY USA joins EMERGENCY in requesting immediate prioritization of a diplomatic course of action, and a sound rejection of military intervention in Syria.  Starting a peace process is in accordance with international conventions, and is the only logical move to gain ground in protection of the Syrian population, already victimized by the civil war.

Anna Gilmore
President
EMERGENCY USA-Life Support for Civilian Victims of War and Poverty

 

Kabul, Afghanistan

July 31, 2013

The Wall Street Journal: Afghan Civilians, Security Forces Bear A Rising Burden of War

By MARGHERITA STANCATI and HABIB KHAN TOTAKHIL

Civilians and security forces are bearing a rising brunt of the war in Afghanistan, as the country's troops gradually take over from the U.S.-led international coalition, according to two new reports.

During the first six months of 2013, the number of civilians killed or injured in war-related incidents in Afghanistan rose 23% from the year-earlier period, says a report from the United Nations released on Wednesday. Around 1,320 civilians were killed and more than 2,500 were injured in war-linked incidents, among them a growing number of women and children.

The surge in civilian casualties underscores deteriorating security as Afghan forces take over from the U.S.-led international coalition. Afghan troops led around 90% of operations this year until mid-June, when they formally took the lead for security around the country from foreign forces.

The dire situation was underscored by a report the Pentagon submitted to Congress on Tuesday saying that Afghan forces aren't yet able to protect the entire nation and will require significant U.S. military and financial support for the foreseeable future.

The report says that pervasive government corruption "poses a major threat" that could undermine the costly international campaign to stabilize the nation.

Afghan and American officials are working on a deal to let a small number of U.S. forces stay in Afghanistan after the coalition's mission ends in 2014, to help local security forces—which are bearing the brunt of a record number of insurgent attacks, the report says.

"Although [Afghan security force] capabilities have greatly increased over the past two years, it has yet to demonstrate the ability to operate independently on a nationwide scale," the report concludes.

Meanwhile, despite the Taliban insurgents' insistence that they take all necessary steps to avoid civilian casualties, a commitment they reiterated this spring when they announced the start of their fighting season, the U.N. report found otherwise.

It said that the Taliban and other insurgent groups were responsible for 74% of civilian deaths and injuries in the first half of the year. Improvised explosive devices planted by insurgents remained the single biggest threat for Afghan civilians, the report adds.

The Taliban slammed the report as "totally biased" and "baseless propaganda."

In a statement, the group clarified that they don't consider government workers civilians: "We never consider those people as civilians who are directly involved in our country's occupation and work with sensitive organs of the enemy."

The U.N. report found a 29% increase in killings and injuries of civilians targeted by insurgents because perceived as being pro-government. Last month, 17 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in the Afghan capital targeting a group of supreme court employees waiting to go home. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

Officials in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, for instance, blamed the Taliban for the recent death of two teenage girls and their mother, who were walking home from a local bazaar when one of them stepped on a roadside bomb, killing all three.

Afghan security forces and international troops also contributed to civilian casualties: 9% of the total, says the report. The rest were mostly caught in the crossfire.

Civilian casualties reflect a change in fighting patterns: A reduction in operations by foreign troops led to a drop in the such casualties caused by coalition airstrikes, the U.N. study found, while the number of civilians injured or killed in ground clashes between Afghan forces and insurgents has soared.

"Efforts by antigovernment elements to assert territorial influence in contested areas led to increased ground engagement between antigovernment and pro-government forces," leading to more civilian deaths and injuries in the crossfire or from insurgent-placed improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the report said.

From January through June, IEDs killed 443 civilians and injured 917—a 34% jump over the 2012 period—while crossfire caused the death of 207 people and wounded 764, a 42% increase, say U.N statistics.

The report also warned that unexploded munitions pose an increasing threat to civilians: they caused 43 deaths and 102 injuries in the first half of 2013, a 53% rise from 2012. The U.N. attributed this to an increase in ground fighting and to the failure of the U.S.-led coalition to sufficiently clear their bases and firing ranges of unexploded ordnance as they withdraw.

"We are committed to minimizing the risk that explosive remnants of war present to civilian populations by adheri

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