News / Middle East

Egypt Clashes Drain Hospital Blood Supplies

Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are stationed outside the Aguza Military Hospital in Cairo, August 19, 2013.Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are stationed outside the Aguza Military Hospital in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
x
Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are stationed outside the Aguza Military Hospital in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are stationed outside the Aguza Military Hospital in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
Heather Murdock
Doctors say hospitals in Cairo are strained almost beyond their limits as casualty counts grow from daily clashes on the streets.  Full morgues are also feeding anger, as families wait for their loved-ones' bodies to be released. 
 
A week ago, Egypt’s military-led interim government and protesters in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi were in a stalemate.  For months, gun and rock battles had been sporadically breaking out in the streets.  The government repeatedly told protesters to abandon sit-in camps in Cairo and protesters had repeatedly said they would rather die first.  
 
Since the military broke up the sit-in camps by force last week, Amnesty International says 900 protesters and other civilians have died, along with nearly 100 soldiers and police.  The Muslim Brotherhood, which organizes the protesters, estimates the number of dead to be far higher.  All agree that thousands of people have been injured.
 
Marches continue, but now frequently descend into deadly clashes.  The violence has taken other forms as well, including direct attacks on both security forces and prisoners.  Neither side has said anything to indicate that it will compromise and locals say this chapter of Egyptian history will not end without more bloodshed.
 
Stretched to limit

In the meantime, hospitals are stretched to their limit and are running out of blood to treat the wounded.  Dr. Motaz Ali Selim is a surgeon at Kasr el Ainy Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University.  He has been treating the wounded and documenting the dead for months. “We have definitely used up our supplement of the blood in the clashes over the past couple of weeks.  So there is definitely a desperate need for blood and blood donors, so everyone who can donate is more than welcome right now,” he stated.
 
Last Friday, at least 150 wounded individuals poured into his emergency room in a span of about two hours, stretching their staff to the limit, even with health workers not on shift turning up to lend a hand.
 
He said many were brought in dead or dying and hospital workers had to write reports and turn over the bodies to forensic scientists.  Most patients, he said, who were carried in or brought on motorcycles during clashes had suffered gunshot wounds.
 
“It’s a very sad situation.  Those are all young guys.  You can see your brother, your best friend, the people working with you.  They all really look alike - sort of like regular Egyptian people,” Selim said.

Cause of death disputes

According to protesters, when friends die from gunshot wounds, tensions are often worsened by disputes over the official cause of death at the morgue before the bodies are released.  A man, who asked to be called only ‘Mohammad’ for security reasons, is a member of the National Committee for Legitimacy, an organization that works with the Muslim Brotherhood to organize their protests.  
 
“They blackmail the families of those people who got shot to sign papers that their relatives died out of natural causes or even at times out of suicide," Mohammad explained. "There is a guy - they forced his dad to sign a paper saying he shot himself three times in the head."
 
Some say this practice is to increase efficiency and get the bodies back to the families for the quick burials called for by Islam.  Others say it is so authorities can avoid taking responsibility.
 
Despite the suffering on all sides, many people in Egypt say the crackdown is justified.
 
Muslim Brotherhood

Mohammad Hisham, spokesperson for the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance, an umbrella organization of several political parties that support the interim government, said attacks on Muslim Brotherhood protests avert what could be even more violence. “What’s going on now is not a kind of peaceful demonstration or protests… but it’s a confrontation with organized terrorist groups,” he explained.

Scores of Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested in the past week, including leader Mohamed Badie early Tuesday.  Hisham said the group is armed, seeking to incite violence and a direct threat to future democracy in Egypt.
 
The Brotherhood vehemently denied these charges, but admitted that some of their supporters have appeared at protests with weapons.
 
Doctors said regardless of who is responsible for the fighting, people on both sides will continue to die if something does not change drastically.  When asked if he can continue to work through the carnage, Selim said he and other health workers will stay on.  “I don’t really think I have a choice on that.  If it continues, then we need every single hand to help with trying to save all the lives you can,” he  responded.

And lives continue to be lost daily, he said, with the wounded turning up in hospitals days after clashes.  Egyptians are now bracing for more protests, crackdowns and large marches scheduled for August 30.  Both protesters and their opponents said they are fighting for democracy, social justice and freedom.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid