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Yemen: “We are very busy in ER receiving wounded from Taiz”

11 Jul 2016

It’s already been three weeks since I arrived back in Yemen. It was great to see the national staff again and to go back to the hospital in Ibb. A few of the nurses and doctors have gone but the new ones are nice and keen to learn. I have also worked with our Field Coordinator Thierry when I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last year so it was nice to see another familiar face. 

Naji, the Hospital Administrator ER manager was very welcoming. It was also nice to see some of my patients that were here in January and February. Things have improved in the ER but there is still a lot to do. We were very hectic for the first few days after I had arrived. This was because our Medical Team Leader was on a break and we didn’t yet have an ER doctor. However thankfully our ER doctor Dominique arrived last week. The atmosphere in the house is also very different from last time. A lot less international staff stay permanently here now and the evenings are much quieter than before. Although we still have visitors from Sana’a or Geneva from time to time.

"I shared meals with the guards and drivers a few times as during Ramadan people share meals and we were invited almost every night"

We’ve just had Ramadan here in Yemen and what an interesting time! The staff work on reduced hours and I must admit I admire them for still working without any food or drink all day. It is quite hot during the day but thankfully it rains almost every evening which is very refreshing. Fast breaks at around 18:30 and our staff then stay awake most of the night eating and socialising. I shared meals with the guards and drivers a few times as during Ramadan people share meals and we were invited almost every night! I still enjoy their food very much. Ramadan finished last Tuesday, with Eid on the Wednesday. Almost nobody works and we had some difficulty to keep the ER open! But it was really interesting to learn about their customs during this period.

Unfortunately neither Ramadan nor the negotiations in Kuwait have stopped the fighting. Although Ibb is relatively calm, we are very busy in ER receiving wounded from Taiz, where the fighting seems to have increased those last few days, as well as from places around Ibb where there are sporadic clashes and some attacks, most of the time killing and injuring civilians. Today we had a very bloody morning in the resuscitation area with four fighters arriving at the same time all of them in very bad condition. Two had gunshot wounds to the head, one in the abdomen and one in the back. And in the middle of it all we had a little child who almost accidentally hung himself while playing on a swing and who was now unconscious.

Our teams have improved a lot. While the working conditions are still very challenging it is a bit easier and much more organised than at the beginning of the year. It’s so rewarding to see that we do have some impact and that we are helping the population a little bit.