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In war-torn countries, the Red Cross provides life-saving surgery

For the last ten years, armed conflicts and violence has caused an unprecedented level of human suffering in the Middle East and North Africa. The Red Cross and Red Crescent is on the ground, providing impartial and life-saving aid to those who are caught in these conflicts. One way that war, conflict, and violence affects civilians is through access to healthcare systems – which are often left damaged, or on the brink of collapse.

In these conflict areas, civilians are being heavily impacted. Throughout 2010 to 2015, nearly half of all civilian war deaths in the world occurred in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

Red Cross medical staff performs surgery in IraqVoices from Within: A Decade of War Surgery in the Middle East and North Africa, released earlier in December, tells the stories of aid workers from around the world who are providing life-saving healthcare in war-torn areas. The report shows the steps the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is taking to prevent the collapse of at-risk healthcare systems, and how the gaps are being filled in areas where that collapse has already happened. This can include anything from providing supplies and improving infrastructure, to sending specialized staff, to even setting up an entire hospital.

Canadian Léone Gangé was an operating theatre nurse in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017. She was working in Mosul’s General Public hospital, providing front-line care to civilians.  She recalls, “the main challenge for me was being confronted with a ‘live war’ where I could hear bombs throughout the night.”

Providing surgical care during armed conflicts is a pillar of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Their work does not just include providing immediate, life-saving interventions, but includes things like rehabilitation, mental health support, pre-hospital care, and fostering safer behaviour in areas contaminated by weapons.

You can read the report, and learn more about the people who are being impacted by armed conflicts and violence, and the aid workers who are providing medical care in these areas.

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