Reference : V-P-TD-E-00749
Date : 12/07/2023
Country/Region : CHAD; SUDAN
Caption : Adré, Abéché, university hospital centre. Two sisters admitted to the hospital after being shot in the arms.
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.
"Seven-year-old Naima and five-year-old Malak were shot in their home by armed men while their mother was at a neighbour's house. Only when Sihame ran outside screaming that there were children inside did the men leave. Sihame carried her girls over the border, determined to get them care.
"Eventually, they reached Abéché Hospital and were treated by the ICRC medical team. Both girls had been hit in the arms not the legs, so they could at least wander around and get the attention of newcomers like me, playing and photobombing at every opportunity, like kids everywhere."

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