Inside Gino Strada's Emergency War Victim's Hospital, Kabul Afghanistan

Inside Gino Strada’s Emergency War Victim’s Hospital are those whose lives changed in an instant. One day, they awoke in a white room, maimed for life, a living testament to the injustice of conflict. They are the flesh and blood of collateral damage statistics, mine victims, gunshot and IED injuries, mostly civilian, and far too often children.


On March 19, 2007 Emergency was asked by the Italian government to facilitate the exchange of prisoners for La Republica’s journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who had been kidnapped two weeks prior by Taliban forces. They sent one of their employees to do the job, Ramatoullah Hanefi, the same man who in November of 2006 carried a 2 million dollar ransom to secure the release of another Italian journalist by the name of Gabriele Torsello. The day after Mastrogiacomo’s release, Ramatoullah Hanefi was arrested, and Emergency was accused of being in cahoots with the Taliban. The Italian aid agency, which provides free care for victims of war, had no choice but to close down its operations, and laid in wait of Hanefi’s release. Finally, three months later, he was let go and Emergency set to get their operation up and running again. I arrived at their center in Kabul shortly after their doors reopened to the public. The beds quickly filled up, and international and local staff members were all too eager to get back to work.


Emergency brings in a team of adept surgeons from Italy and other countries to work along side Afghan doctors, training them in some of the more complex surgical practices.The hospital’s open door, no questions asked, free treatment policy, effaces the line between enemy and victim. All are witnesses, survivors bearing the marks of war. The following images are a documentation of life at the hospital. 


All text and images by Anne Holmes 


A young boy undergoes surgery to remove shrapnel from his right thigh.


Hamid Ullah is wheeled in for surgery to his left leg. 


Abdul Qayom, aged 9 lost a thumb in a mine explosion. 



Abdul Moomin, age 12, was shot in the head by a security guard while playing on private property. The bullet went in one side and out the other. Miraculously, five days later, the young boy has regained all his faculties except speech, and maintains a remarkable positive attitude. 



Civilian anti-personnel land mine victim 



Just out of OT, a young man calls his brother's name.



Italian and Afghan surgeons discuss a new case at Emergency War Victims Hospital in Kabul.



A doctor tests Mohammad Omer's vision as the patient's father looks on. 



A team of Afghan and Italian doctors prepares for surgery. 



Dr. Landini and  Dr. Fawad examine an infected wound before deciding to abort the planned grafting operation. 



From R to L surgeons Danilo Ghirelli, Farman Hasan, and nurse Debbie Rutherford stand over a child whom they are unable to save. The young boy arrived with his brain falling out of his skull after a mine exploded while he was playing with his siblings. 





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