Monday, June 26, 2017


Mosul, 24 June: 

The military offensive in the old city of Mosul is in full stride. I manage to get a bit of restless sleep despite the ongoing noise of explosions from mortars and air strikes, as well as intermittent gunfire. We are woken at 4am with more casualties from a mortar attack in the old city. The body bags are already lined up by the entrance to the clinic. 3 dead. 2 survivors pelleted from head to toe with shrapnel, one with a penetrating eye injury, a mangled hand, and a horrible compound tibia-fibula fracture. But he's alive and that's all that matters right now. 

An old man in his 80s with septic wounds from shrapnel just sits in his wheelchair nearby and sobs. He says there is no reason to live anymore and wishes he could die. His son was shot by ISIS on one of the bridges over the Tigris a few months ago. 

As the day starts to get hotter the lines outside the clinic increase. Everyone is painfully thin. A father has brought in his 6 month old with marasmus. She's the size of a newborn. The mother has been unable to breastfeed and the child has only had cow milk since birth with the obvious results. The family have just gotten out of the old city. They too have been eating grass to stay alive for the past few months. 

An ambulance comes in with another body of a soldier killed by a sniper. His friends, all in their early 20s sit in the back of the ambulance sobbing their hearts out at the absolutely hopelessness of it all. 

I'm called over to see man led in by his elderly mother. He survived a mortar attack a few months ago but it blew off half of face and destroyed both his eyes. She's asking if there's anything we can do to help him. Obviously nothing. It just such a mess.
I wish you could all experience my day. 

It changes the way you see the world completely. For the worse, but for the better too.

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