News

December 17th, 2014

Today in Lashkar-Gah city in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, suspected Taliban fighters detonated suicide bombs, stormed the Kabul Bank of Lashkar-Gah, and engaged in a firefight with security forces. The bank is the site in which the salaries of local police are paid out and has been the target of numerous attacks in the past.

Twenty casualties were taken to EMERGENCY‘s Lashkar-Gah Surgical Center for War Victims in the city; 6 were already dead on arrival. As the fighting appeared to be drawing to a close, a car bomb exploded in the midst of the rescuers. This explosion broke all the windows of the EMERGENCY hospital and caused some structural damage, but luckily none of the patients or staff were hurt.

Click here to read more.

December 15th, 2014

On Saturday, December 13th, we transferred the first eight patients from our 22-bed Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka to our new 100-bed Ebola Treatment Center outside Freetown, Sierra Leone.

We had planned to open the new Center on Sunday, but we received a call from Connaught Hospital, the main hospital in Freetown, to ask us to transfer here one of their doctors who just tested positive for Ebola.

Click here to read more.

December 12th, 2014

International Business Times UK: The Ebola death councillors offering therapy to stem trauma in Sierra Leone

Monjama was one of the first survivors to leave our Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone. On Dember 12th, the International Business Times published an article with an update from Monjama, who is using her story of survival to help recovering patients suffering from the psychological trauma of this disease.

Even after a patient beats Ebola, the ostracism and trauma remain. EMERGENCY medical coordinator Luca Rolla explains, “A big problem with recovering patients is depression. People are dying everywhere around those patients [who] also face the stigma when they go back home.” Monjama and other survivors are working at the Lakka Center and using their positive stories of survival to connect with these patients.

Click here to read the article online.

December 10th, 2014

Yahoo! News: Modern Day Heroes

EMERGENCY founder Dr. Gino Strada has been included in the Yahoo! News article“Modern Day Heroes” for his work promoting peace and universal access to free-of-charge, high quality healthcare. Dr. Strada has performed over 30,000 surgeries all over the world in areas burdened by conflict and poverty. On the subject of what keeps him motivated to continue serving he says, “When you operate on a child and you see him walking again…or you operate on small children who come in with terminal conditions and you see them running in the garden a month later. That will give you the strength and the energy to work again.”

Click here to read the article online.

November 28th, 2014

The New York Times: For Afghans, the Fighting Now Knows No Season

Since the departure of U.S. and NATO military forces, the Taliban has escalated their attacks in Afghanistan. Insurgents targeted several military and civilian locations in a series of attacks on Thursday and Friday. The escalating conflict has lead to a large increase in civilian and military victims of war. This increase has been felt by EMERGENCY, which operates three hospitals, a maternity center and 40 clinics throughout Afghanistan. EMERGENCY coordinator Emanuele Nannini is consulted on the situation: “It’s getting much worse,” he said. “The fighting season almost doesn’t end any longer.”

Click here to read the article online.

November 21st, 2014

Affect Magazine: No Such Thing as an Ebola Crisis in U.S. 

"At EMERGENCY’s treatment center in Lakka, beds only become available when current patients die or are discharged. As long as this is the case, in Sierra Leone and West Africa as a whole, the problem will only grow."

Despite the media attention towards the few isolated cases, there is no Ebola crisis in the U.S. What should cause concern is the deficit of infrastructure and personnel available to contain and curb the outbreak in West Africa. If we want to stop to global spread of Ebola, we should start by supporting programs like EMERGENCY's that help contain and care for infected patients with proven efficacy.  

Click here to read the article online.

November 7th, 2014

Newsweek: For Health Care Workers Fighting Ebola, the Biggest Battle Is Staying Healthy

Dr. Gino Strada, the founder of EMERGENCY, tells Newsweek about the need to adequately train and protect health care workers. "He says the Ebola outbreak has forced many of Sierra Leone’s hospitals to be abandoned in recent months because of the high rates of health care worker infections …"

Click here to read the article online.

November 6th, 2014

Vice News: Afghanistan: What We're Leaving Behind

In this 30 minute report, Vice News correspondent Ben Anderson visits the EMERGENCY hospital in Lashkar-Gah, Afghanistan to speak with the medical staff as they attempt to manage the ever-growing influx of patients.

Click here to watch the video online. 

November 4th, 2014

SFGate: Ebola hits health care access for other diseases

There’s this incredible silent killer health crisis behind the Ebola crisis,” said Eric Talbert, the executive director of EMERGENCY USA. Due to the Ebola outbreak cases of such as malaria, pneumonia, and typhoid are going untreated..."

Click here to read the article online.

October 30, 2014

Vox: Experts say this is the one thing needed to stop the Ebola crisis

The World Bank Group has singled out the lack of Health Care personnel as the most critical element in fighting the Ebola outbreak. EMERGENCY’s founder Gino Strada, speaks here about the difficulty in recruiting health workers.

"The personnel is a critical factor," says Strada, a surgeon who is used to operating in the middle of more traditional battlefields, such as Afghanistan and Sudan. "To be able to provide each patient with a minimum of five to six hours of medical attention means you have to work on a rotation basis, so you need 100 nurses, and 10 to 15 doctors.”

Click here to read the article online.

October 26th, 2014

Washington Post: War Amputees in Afghanistan Face Harsh Lives of Discrimination and Poverty

Even though the victims of land mines and unexploded roadside bombs is increasing in Afghanistan, amputees continue to face discrimination and the harsh stigma of being disabled. From January to June of this year EMERGENCY’s Center for War Trauma Victims in Lashkar-Gah in southern Afghanistan performed 69 amputations. “Socially and financially, their lives are destroyed,” Emanuele Nannini, program director for EMERGENCY, which operates health-care centers across Afghanistan, said of Afghan amputees.

Click here to read the article online. 

October 8th, 2014

Partnership with the talented and passionate team at End Ebola Now begins today with #ShakeEbolaOff dance challenge to help raise awareness and funds to support our Ebola response in Sierra Leone.

Click here to read more.

October 6th, 2014

It is possible to recover from Ebola: Monjama and Salatu have done just that!

Monjama and Salamatu are both 25 years old, from Freetown and Ebola survivors. They were treated at the EMERGENCY Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone.

Click here for a photo and to read more.

September 23th, 2014

Our doctors and nurses are already working round-the-clock at the new Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone which we just opened 5 days ago.

So far, the center has taken in 10 patients, and 2 suspect cases are on their way now from the province of Pujehun.

Don Emanuel, the Spanish priest brought to our center last Friday, was taken back to his country yesterday morning. He’s in a critical condition.

His bed was been taken over by Grace, a 38-year old woman whose Ebola test was done while she was being taken care of in the isolation unit at our Goderich Surgical Center yesterday evening proved positive. Grace was 6 months pregnant, but she suffered a miscarriage just before being brought to our Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka.

Click here to read more.

September 18th, 2014

In Sierra Leone the Ebola epidemic is out of control. Over 1,500 people have contracted Ebola, and more than half of them have died. 500 new cases have come to light in the last 3 weeks alone. Every day, more than 20 people fall ill with the disease.

To deal with this situation, EMERGENCY opened a new Ebola Treatment Center today in Lakka, near our hospital and the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown.

Click here to read more.

September 13th, 2014

So far there has been 1,305 cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, including 76 in the capital of Freetown and 42 in the “Western Area” where our Goderich hospital is located. The two treatment centers of Kenema and Kailahun are full, and won’t be able to take in any more patients for a few days: those who test results come back positive will have to wait until a bed becomes free in the isolation units.

- Huffington Post article on September 16th, “As Ebola Outbreak Spreads, Here’s How You Can Help” – mentions EMERGENCY USA.

 

September 4th, 2014

The Ebola outbreak is creating a healthcare crisis as people are unable to access the life-saving surgical and medical treatment they need due to the closing of hospitals, the deaths of healthcare workers and the strain on the entire region as local personnel are being relocated to focus on treating and stopping Ebola, leaving many others in need of treatment with no place to go, except for our hospital.

Last Monday the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, visited the EMERGENCY hospital in Goderich.

We told him that the closure of the children’s hospital and the operating rooms in the general hospital are having serious effects on our ability to treat people in need.

Click here to read more.

August 25th, 2014

Three patients tested positive for Ebola at the EMERGENCY hospital in Sierra Leone on, Sunday, August 24th, 2014. These patients who tested positive for Ebola were transferred from the EMERGENCY hospital in Goderich to the offical treatment center in Kenema, as required by national guidelines for Sierra Leone. 

A woman and her 3-year-old twin daughters were admitted to the EMERGENCY hospital in Sierra Leone on Thursday evening with fever and diarrhea. They were immediately recognized as suspected cases, so they were placed in one of our two isolation wards where they were treated with supportive care while awaiting their test results.

Click here to read more.

 

August 21st, 2014

Due to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, EMERGENCY is running the only fully functional healthcare facilities in Freetown. Click here to read more.

August 19th, 2014

As we are inundated with media coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, it is important to recognize the root causes of this international public health crisis. On a global scale, these causes are war, poverty and privatized healthcare. By addressing these deeper root causes we can develop the tools and resources required to address the immediate and massive needs of those affected by the current crisis—the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history—and prevent similar complex global health crises in the future. Click here to read, "5 Root Causes of the Ebola Crisis and How to Prevent a Future Outbreak" by Eric Talbert, Executive Director of EMERGENCY USA.

August 11th, 2014

Eric Talbert, Executive Director of EMERGENCY USA, was interviewed on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and the impact its had on the EMERGENCY surgical and pediatric hospital near the capital city of Freetown. In this MSNBC segment hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry, Eric mentions the importance of a human rights based approach to medicine and public health in areas devastated by war as well as the financial investment being made to protect the EMERGENCY staff and hospital from Ebola. The EMERGENCY Surgical Center is the main trauma referral center for the entire country of Sierra Leone and is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Click here to view the interview.

August 7th, 2014

Despite hundreds of cases verified around Sierra Leone and neighboring countries, we have yet to see any patients with the Ebola virus at our surgical center in Goderich, near the capital city of Freetown. But we’re on high alert.

July 22nd, 2014

"Do not enter with weapons"

At the entrance to our hospitals in war zones, signs like this one remind people that a hospital is a place of healthcare, and peace.

No Weapons

That's why we're so shocked by the information arriving from Gaza: 600 dead, thousands of casualties, a hospital that becomes a target for the bombing.

Hitting places of treatment and bombing civilians won't stop the violence.

Stop firing: war will do nothing but lead to another war.

 

July 16th, 2014

Eight days into Operation "Protective Edge" and there have been 194 deaths, along with more than 1,400 wounded. The bombing hasn't spared schools, orphanages or mosques, or even the hospitals that have actually become a specific target of the attacks.

Over 20,000 people have left their homes, fleeing from the threat of a massacre that they know only too well.

The war began 65 years ago, and still it goes on: violence generates more violence. A new war clearly isn't the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

We've seen it every single day in our hospitals for the past 20 years: war is never a solution.

In Gaza, as in Kabul, Bangui or Baghdad, war always and only means the crushing of other human beings.

We're asking both sides to adopt an immediate ceasefire for the good of the civilian population, and we're asking the international community to develop a peace process that guarantees full respect of human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.


We can still decide to give up the idea of war; only respect for the application of rights can stop this descent into violence that we're witnessing.

July 15th, 2014

Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN - ATTACK IN PAKTIKA: 23 WOUNDED BROUGHT TO THE EMERGENCY HOSPITAL IN KABUL 

Yesterday the EMERGENCY hospital in Kabul took in 23 people wounded in the morning attack in the province of Paktika, near the Pakistan border: a car bomb exploded in the crowded market, killing 89 people and leaving dozens injured.

The 23 patients (all of them male adults apart from 3 children) had to face a 7-hour journey by ambulance to reach us; an immense length of time, given that the most distant towns our patients generally come from are 4 hours away.

In the afternoon there was shooting less than 1 kilometre from our hospital.

After 13 years of war, up to 130,000 foreign soldiers in the country, and 4.2 billion dollars spent every year for the Afghan security forces (equal to 50% of the local Financial Act), the situation in Afghanistan is worsening day by day.

Attacks and fighting are daily occurrences, and they're getting more and more intense: in the first 6 months of 2014, we saw a 20% increase in the number of war wounded arriving at our hospitals.

EMERGENCY has been working in Afghanistan since 1999, with a Surgical Centre for war victims in Kabul and another in Lashkar-gah (Helmand), a hospital and a Maternity Centre in Anabah (Panjshir Valley), 40 First Aid Posts and Health Centres, and a healthcare assistance program in the prisons of Kabul.

In Afghanistan, EMERGENCY has treated over 3,900,000 people.

May 25th, 2014

Kabul, Afghanistan

I've just returned back to Kabul after spending a few days in Italy, and the situation's exactly as it was when I left a week ago: the hospital is full of wounded people, arriving every day from Kabul and the nearby provinces.

The spring offensive has begun, and you only need to take a look at our hospital registers to see it: all the 95 beds are occupied. The children's ward is full to overflowing: we've been forced to put the boys on the adult wards.

In the first four months of this year, our hospitals in Kabul and Lashkar-gah saw a 37% rise in children admitted for war-related injuries: no one could still have the nerve to call them "side effects." 

Luca Radaelli – EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator in Afghanistan

 

May 5th, 2014

Goderich, Sierra Leone

Below is a photo of the first newborn baby to use the incubator recently donated to us.

Bobo Patrick
His name is Bobo Patrick. He's 3 days old and weighs 2.6kg, and was sent to us from the public paediatric hospital for an omphalocele repair procedure. The operation was carried out this morning, and the patient is now stable in our critical care unit.

Luca Rolla - EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator in Sierra Leone

May 4th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

In these past few weeks, the level of safety in the Central African Republic continues to get worse and worse. The northern part of the country is out of control: despite the presence of the French troops and MISCA, the Anti-balaka and Seleka go on fighting.

Skirmishes are rare in Bangui now, but the crime level is extremely high.

It's hard to predict what could happen.

The EMERGENCY Paediatric Centre is always full to overflowing. The malaria situation is critical: every day we're taking in children in such serious conditions that it's impossible to treat them.

Jules, a 1-year old boy, was brought to our Paediatric Centre by another organisation that works just outside Bangui. He was suffering from a serious form of malaria and needed urgent transfusions, but there was nothing we could do: he was already dead when he reached us.

The photo below is by Catianne Tijerina of a young boy who was lucky enough to reach us in time to be treated.

Bangui_Boy

April 28th, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

A convoy of 1,200 Muslims set off today from PK12, 12km from the center of Bangui, heading north.

Despite the tensions, there was no fighting when they departed and the international forces will escort them for the whole journey.

Immediately after they left, people began ransacking the mosque where the refugees had been living for many weeks.

This was one of the largest Muslim communities left in the city after the skirmishes of recent months: the Muslims were one of the main targets for the Anti-balaka militia, particularly after the resignation of president Djotodia last February.

In the rest of the country, the situation is out of control. It's been a bit more stable here in Bangui over the last few weeks, even though there's no let-up at all in some neighbourhoods.

Fighting continues in the Muslim settlements, and the roads are extremely dangerous in the evening due to the presence of militiamen, drifters and run-of-the-mill criminals.

There are too many weapons to be had for the asking, like in every war.

At the Complexe Pédiatrique (the public hospital where our emergency surgery team has been working for over a year now), the patients are mostly children with old wounds never treated, or treated badly: especially outside Bangui, access to medical care - and free care in particular - is always a major problem.

Bangui

The rainy season has arrived early, so there's been an increase in the number of patients with malaria and problems of the airways. At our Paediatric Centre, there's no end in sight to the emergency situation: the ward, and the tent with its 8 additional beds (put up in the worst days of the war) are always full.

April 24th, 2014

Tagab, Afghanistan

And here we are again: the material's ready, the nurses' training has been completed, the ambulance is ready to go. Time to open: as of today, Tagab - the most bloodstained district of the province of Kapisa in northern Afghanistan - has its own First Aid Post (FAP).

 FAP in Tagab

We'd noted the need to have a permanent presence here for some time: all the war casualties that were coming to us in the peaceful village of Anabah came from this area and we knew that the healthcare situation was bad.

That's why, about a year ago, we started setting up some contacts locally. The time since then has flown by with projects, meetings with the local people, preparations and waiting; now the moment has arrived to open the doors.

While we were getting the FAP ready, we received many enthusiastic phone calls from our Afghan colleagues in Tagab: "Everything's going well here. The people are helping us in every way possible; they come to see how the work is coming on, and they thank us. The older people of the village keep asking us when we'll be opening!"

Today, Thursday the 24th of April, the FAP beginnings its work: at last the patients of Tagab and Alasay will have the chance to be treated and, if necessary, transferred by ambulance to our hospital in Anabah as quickly as possible".

Michela, EMERGENCY Nurse in Afghanistan

April 21st, 2014

Bangui, Central African Republic

Pauline arrived at our hospital six weeks ago.

She was in a coma after being struck in the head with a machete during an attack in Boda, one of the area’s most badly hit by the war, 200km from Bangui.

Pauline

She was alone, brought in by a humanitarian organisation that works in her city. They told us she was an orphan, then said her parents had fled to the forest to escape the fighting, and finally that her mother had left when Pauline was still a baby and she'd been brought up by her father, who'd since disappeared.

Yesterday, we finally found an aunt who came to take her home. Pauline is doing much better; she's put on weight and is always full of life.

Pauline cries though, and she doesn't want to go home. “There are bad men there. I don't want to go”, she says.

In Bangui, safety is improving. There's no more fighting. People have resumed their everyday lives, albeit amid the hardships of a country that was already poor before and is now on its knees due to the effects of the war.

In the provinces, the skirmishes continue and there doesn't appear to be any way out.

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

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