Health Care in Danger: Photo essay

This week, the Canadian Red Cross and the ICRC are hosting a workshop bringing together experts to identify recommendations to ensure the safety of health facilities in times of conflict. As such, we’ll be posting a blog post every day this week to help raise awareness about the need for healthcare workers to be protected in emergencies.

These photos are from the ICRC photo exhibition "Health Care in Danger: An issue for our times" composed of rare photographs, each telling similar stories although coming from very different places and times in history.

During periods of armed violence, providing health care can become an extraordinarily hazardous undertaking beset by difficulties and threats to safety. Medical teams find themselves operating without basic equipment, and sometimes without even electricity or water. To evacuate or to reach the wounded and the sick in conflict zones, health care workers sometimes have to put themselves at great risk.

These powerful photographs portray both the impact of violence directed against medical personnel, facilities and vehicles and the struggle to provide medical care during war.


Libya, 2011. The main operating theatre of a hospital in ruins after sustained bombardment.

© ICRC / André Liohn / ly-e-00318



 Afghanistan, 2010. Taxis are used to take people to hospital when there is no ambulance service.

© ICRC / K. Holt / af-e-01707



Afghanistan, 2010. It took four days for this mother to reach one of the few hospitals where her child, suffering from severe diarrhoea, could be treated. The condition of the child had worsened considerably by the time they reached the hospital.

© ICRC / K. Holt / af-e-01647


Lebanon, 1983. Ambulance damaged in cross-fire during fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

© ICRC / B. Hubschmid / lb-d-00078-18


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