Despair and hope in conflict-hit Iraq

In Iraq, people forced from their homes by ongoing violence find shelter where they can – from motorway underpasses to half-built warehouses. But the Red Cross and Red Crescent are bringing vital help.

people shelter under a concrete bridge

People shelter under a bridge in Dohuk. ©ICRC/Saleh Dabbakeh

Women and children shelter behind a brick wall

Women and children at an unfinished warehouse in Khanik. © ICRC/Saleh Dabbakeh

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Ebola outbreak: ‘If we don’t help, who will?’

Ebola-nurse-blogIf I am honest, I have stopped looking at the tallies of the dead. Numbers don’t show you what Ebola is really doing to these communities.

But I see the fear and misinformation it spreads. The orphans it leaves in its wake. The 120 health workers who have died while trying to help patients, in countries that already have some of the lowest doctor-patient ratios in the world.

When I first arrived in Sierra Leone six weeks ago, I travelled with the local Red Cross to the infection ‘hot zone’ near the Guinea and Liberia borders.

The volunteers were tired but motivated. Someone asked them: “Why volunteer to manage dead bodies?” A volunteer quickly answered: “If we don’t do it, who will?”

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Iraq: Exhaustion on the road to safety

People are given goods including bread and nappies

©Stacy Ragan / American Red Cross / IFRC

The Iraqi village of Faysh Khabur has become a destination for thousands of terrified people fleeing the country’s lethal violence. Here people cross into the safer region of Kurdistan, so the village often marks the end of one stage in a desperate journey.

But Kurdistan’s new arrivals still face huge problems and an uncertain future. More

From death threats in Sudan to a new life as refugees

Mohammed and his family - with Melanie Thomas, from the British Red Cross.

Mohammed and his family – with Melanie Thomas, from the British Red Cross.

Mohammed was a lawyer who loved his job. But when he started to receive death threats, he was forced to flee his home country of Sudan. He had to leave his wife and young sons behind.

Thanks to the British Red Cross, they are now back together again – and rebuilding their lives as a family. More

Video: South Sudan stands on the brink of catastrophe

Ordinarily, Achoul Biramwould has her hair plaited or covered in a colourful head scarf befitting ‘a woman of standing’. Not today and not for the foreseeable future.

For three months now, Achoul has had her hair shorn to a close crop, in mourning after the death of her husband.

“When the fighting broke out, my husband was killed, but we managed to escape into the bush where we had nothing to eat but grass. Just like this,” Achoul says, pointing at sprouts of green leaves close to her feet.

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Surgery in Gaza: Saving lives amid the chaos

Five men sat on a bench

David Nott (second from left) with colleagues. ©ICRC

When fighting brought death and misery to Gaza this summer, British surgeon David Nott performed emergency surgery on those caught up in the violence. He saw operations carried out on hallway floors, and dying children brought in without their parents. He also witnessed the power of the Red Cross to give vital help when it’s needed most.

David knows exactly what conflict and disaster can do to the human body. He has worked during emergencies in Bosnia, Haiti, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. This summer, he travelled to Gaza for three weeks to work for the International Committee of the Red Cross, mainly at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

During lulls in the fighting, the hospital could be extremely quiet. But at other times patients streamed in with shrapnel wounds and injuries from falling buildings. A shortage of space meant they were laid down for surgery on floors and tabletops, sometimes within a couple of feet of each other. About half of those operated on died. More

‘I was so worried about my family, I couldn’t eat’

Saytun Ali As a teenager, Saytun Ali was forced to flee her hometown in Somalia after sudden violence – without even saying goodbye to her loved ones.

Although she soon settled into life in London, she often thought about her family and what had happened – until, after more than two years apart, the British Red Cross helped her find them. More