Reference : V-P-TD-E-00748
Date : 12/07/2023
Country/Region : CHAD; SUDAN
Caption : Adré, Abéché, university hospital centre. Patient with a hip fractured by a gunshot.
Photographer : GUEIPEUR, Denis Sassou
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : "In July 2023, I was sent to eastern Chad to meet people who had fled Sudan on foot because of the violence. I spent two weeks in an ICRC-supported hospital with patients recovering from bullet wounds, hearing what they had to say. Through their stories I saw how incredibly cruel war is to those who cannot protect themselves. But I also saw how tremendously strong they were in their struggle to survive.
"The hospital was built in the 1970s with a capacity of 289 people. There must have been five times that many patients while I was there. Mothers and their newborns lined up on wooden benches outside overcrowded rooms, shifting uncomfortably, trying to rest. The delivery room, too, made an impression: the rusty pink chair darkened by stains was anything but welcoming. But it was there that the infants took their first breaths.
"An ICRC medical team made up of two nurses, an anaesthetist, and a surgeon had arrived a week before me to treat wounded refugees arriving from Darfur, Sudan. They brought expertise and dedication to life-saving work, but the conditions were difficult. Frequent power cuts forced them to operate by the light of headlamps, as they would in makeshift hospitals in the bush. There was little clean water and medicine, and the lack of personnel meant they worked long hours.
"The rooms where their patients convalesced after surgery had rows of identical metal-framed beds with thin black plastic mattresses. The yellowish walls with retro tiling gave the absurd impression that the room and the entire hospital were cold. The stifling air stirred by the ceiling fan reminded me otherwise. Thankfully, between the beds, relatives had set down colourful mats to sleep on and keep watch, adding a welcoming and homey touch.
"Niemat was the first patient on the left when you entered the women and children's room. We instantly connected as we both speak English. When I met her, she had already been lying in her hospital bed for 23 days, her hip fractured by a gunshot.
"Her son had tried to lift her up where she fell, and she'd begged him to just save himself. With her wound, she was as good as dead, she'd said. But her son didn't leave her behind, and they managed to reach shelter. A week later, they were separated, and Niemat hasn't heard from him since. When I asked where she thought he might be, her reply gave me goose bumps – he's dead, she's sure of it.
"Most patients had been wounded in the legs, condemning them to their now-familiar hospital beds."

Source: ICRC website, article 16/10/2023.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 3984x2656
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour