The daily emergency in the hospital that welcomes victims of bombings and explosions

November 28, 2016 - “I would have liked to tell you about the paradise of Aleppo but I am forced to tell you part of the truth”. Thus begins the harsh testimony of the doctor Emile Katti, director of the 'Al Rajaa – Hope' hospital in Aleppo. "We live in a city with 10.000 years of history - he says - but today Aleppo is devastated, divided between the eastern area, under the control of Al Qaeda which does not allow civilians to leave through the humanitarian corridors, and the western part where both both Christians and moderate Muslims”.

Emile Katti is an orthopedic surgeon who has been working for 26 years in Syria where, together with some Franciscan religious, he founded the hospital which today it has 65 beds and whose team – he would like to underline – "it is made up of operators of Christian and Muslim confessions, representatives of the entire Syrian ethnic and social mosaic". It is a story studded with images that the doctor addresses to students, researchers and teachers of the Master's Degree Course in Medicine and SurgeryUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, within the November 28 conference dedicated to fragile populations.

These are harsh images, which enter into the specifics of the emergency interventions carried out daily in the Aleppo hospital, alternating with those of the devastation of war. “Mass media only talk about East Aleppo”, comments Katti while showing photos of the Syro-Catholic cathedral, destroyed by bombs arriving from East Aleppo, or of the three-metre missile, fortunately not exploded, launched by Al Qaeda rebels against the convent of cloistered Carmelite nuns. A roundup that does not leave out the symbolic photo of the tragedy of migrants, that of Aylan, a Syrian child found dead on the Turkish coast, to recall how he often "flees from death to die 'again'".

Then an image showing dead and injured in the street due to an explosion: “People have become accustomed to collecting pieces of human flesh in plastic bags before the firefighters arrive to clear the streets and restart traffic”. It is from this that the migrants who arrive on our shores flee, the doctor tries to explain when he admits "that one is not safe even at home because of the missiles and bombs". A few more photos: Mirna, 35 years old and mother of two, an employee of the University of Aleppo who was killed by a missile when she left work, followed by two university students and then two Armenian girls who died in the small business father's business. “They are real facts, of people with names and surnames, people who suffer”continues Emile Katti.

On the other hand, the emergency is continuous in the Aleppo hospital. The hope, which gives the structure its name, can be glimpsed in the history of 8 children rescued from an operation to extract metal shrapnel from a missile from their bodies. The risky attempt - for the doctors and the patient - to remove a bomb from the knee of a 33-year-old woman also has a positive outcome. We work in emergency situations between life and death in which children are often the protagonists of desperate rescues by the operators.

“Despite the war, the stress of the urgency and the lack of means we have not neglected chronic pathologies – says the doctor from Aleppo. You can still die due to lack of treatment, as for a child suffering from congenital kyphoscoliosis who we operated on because he was about to suffocate. He came from a very poor family, the last of twelve children. We did the same with a newborn affected by meningocele”.

"Our work is a work of peace because we try to save everyone, without distinction". The question of peaceful coexistence is crucial for Katti: "I always repeat to my students that all men have the same anatomy". But it is "preventive peace" that the doctor invokes, "the political solution that must be taken by the powers involved because the Syrians are not happy to escape".