December 18, 2006
One Saturday morning, Ibrahim arrives at the MSF hospital at Dogdoré, just over thirty kilometers from the Sudanese border, with a bullet wound in his shoulder. The medical team give him the necessary treatment, dressing the wound and putting his arm in a sling, and Ibrahim explains that he has come from the village of Angoussa, which was attacked by armed men the previous day. He is worried, not about himself, but about his brother, who is seriously wounded and could not make it as far as Dogdoré. Here, journeys are made on foot or by donkey. Apart from some trucks, the only motor vehicles in the region are those used by the army and the various militias, and those belonging to MSF.
Dr. Claudine Maari, the MSF field coordinator, decides to go and look for Ibrahim's brother and evacuate him to the hospital. Nicolas, the logistician, organizes and leads the convoy. With him are François and Gertrude, both nurses, Ahmat, one of the invaluable Chadian interpreters working for the mission, Ibrahim, plus a "first aid kit" containing the medical materials needed to give initial treatment, and a stretcher.
Some attacks result "only" in the theft of livestock, others in massacres and the burning of entire villages. Whoever they are, to their victims the attackers are all "Janjaweed," literally, "robbers on horseback." They come from nomad encampments in the surrounding area, or from neighboring Darfur, and are accused of aiding the rebels who are fighting the Chadian government. In fact the attackers are sometimes robbers, sometimes rebels, sometimes militiamen. All of them act with complete impunity in a complex situation where several sources of tension feed one another. There are disputes between nomads and sedentary populations over access to agricultural resources and water, which, in the absence of any public authority, degenerate into open conflict; banditry, which flourishes in the void left by the state; ethnic separatism and politicians who deliberately exacerbate ethnic tensions in order to increase their influence with this or that group; the presence of armed rebels in Darfur and Chad, each group using the other's territory as a rear base and forming opportunistic alliances with particular ethnic groups; and much more.
Meanwhile, Abdhurahmene is taken by car to the MSF base, where he is treated by the medical staff there. After having a blood transfusion, he pulled through and is now safe, waiting to be transferred to the hospital at Goz Beida for surgery, but David, the doctor, doubts that his leg can be saved.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)