Testimonies collected in the Idlib area, Syria, in mid-January 2013
March 7, 2013
Nine year old boy who had both legs burned in a fire in a IDPs’ camp
Emergency doctor who changed the boy’s bandages:
This young man has serious burns on his legs, buttocks and genitals. When he arrived the burns were infected. The blanket that covered him was actually stuck on to his buttocks. There was pus everywhere and he was dehydrated. I was concerned that he might have worse symptoms, but he didn’t. We gave him a general anaesthetic for the pain, then took off the bandages, cleaned the wounds and removed the dead tissue.
But he needs to be treated in a specialised burns unit as he’ll require skin grafting. He was unable to straighten his knee when he arrived and had a lot of stiffness in the joint, which we call ankylosis. That’s why we put his legs in extension when we do the dressing changes. It’s also really important that he gets physiotherapy.
The fire began in the neighbouring tent – I don’t know how it happened. We build fires to cook, to make tea and to get hot water in the camp. The tents are plastic so they can catch fire easily. When the fire started everyone rushed to put it out. My son ran to get a bucket of water and that’s when his clothes caught fire. That was three weeks ago. We took him to a clinic first, then to another hospital. The nurses changed his bandages regularly, but then the wounds started to bleed and there weren’t any burn specialists who could see him. Today a doctor told us to bring him to the MSF hospital. They treated him in the emergency and tomorrow he’ll be moved to the operating theatre.
We’ve been living in the camps since mid-December. It’s really cold, but at least we’re safe there. There are ten people living in the tent my family’s in.
Our village is near Hama, but we’ve left because of the attacks and the air raids. Once, there were three attacks in one day. There were attacks quite often but not in the same day. Sometimes there wouldn’t be explosions, but this time there were three people killed and twenty more injured. That day, three helicopters dropped barrels full of TNT on the village – metal casks the size of a large rubbish bin with a small opening on the side and big pieces of metal and explosives inside. There are two kinds – one that’s 100 kg and one that’s 500 kg.