On 26th May, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the number of people killed by the anti-ISIS coalition airstrikes led by the United States.
At least 106 victims.
About half of them were children and teenagers.
They were all Daesh fighters’ relatives, allegedly.
An utterly Western sigh of relief.
Or a minor collateral damage.
Or maybe both: a justifiable collateral damage in the economy of the war led by and in the name of (our) civilization against (their) jihadist barbarity which, anyhow, makes us breathe a sigh of relief because it indicates that we got rid of 100 potential terrorists.
On the one hand, terrorists, enemies, budding cut-throats.
On the other, our glorious civilization and us.
The very same civilization that signs conventions and celebrates Children Rights Day, the very same that produces tons of coloured plastic to make toys or limb prosthesis that replace their imagination and their legs devastated by grenades.
At least 106 lives swept away by a death anonymously dropped from the sky, as an undeserved punishment, and we hardly heard about it.
We are far too busy licking our wounds after the absurd attack in Manchester and the Copts massacre in Egypt, we have no tears left for the alleged children and wives of the Islamic State fighters.
They’re there, we’re here.
We are shut in the exact perimeter of our sorrow, we build castles of indifference and we furnish them with a twisted sense of justice granted only to exclusive geographical areas and paid with acritical consensus to the noble cause of the democratic war that shall see the triumph of civilization on barbarity.
Yet, the collateral damage of the war – any war – is us.
Our hearts shattered by the beat of the mortars.
The breath interrupted by the grenades.
The chest suffocated by the gas.
I am the collateral damage of the war.
My unattainable happiness on a planet that replaces skin with plastic.
My body withholds every desire, hidden under fear and terror.
My hands forget the taste of a caress and surrender to the rumble of future conflicts.
My discomfort living with men and women that tear each other to pieces without even savouring the sweetness of an encounter.
*Al-Mayadin is the name of the city where the massacre took place. In most Italian articles reporting the news there was no mention of it: a non-place easily neglected by our very personal geography of grief.
By Maria Grazia Patania
Asma is wearing her favourite dress before walking out of her room on the 4th floor. Khawla, the nurse, runs between rooms visiting patients. Aisha’s father waits for her 7 years daughter outside the operating theatre while she undergoes a surgery. This is the daily life at the Reconstructive Surgery Hospital of MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in Amman, Jordan. 148 beds, about 200 patients treated every month and many more war victims on the waiting list. The effects of the wars and attacks in the Middle East are particularly evident here. Children and adults from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Gaza seriously injured by bombs, car bombs and several fires live in the hospital with a relative or friend and surrounded by medical staff offering precious support. The intimate perspective of the photographer, who visited the hospital every day for two months, tries to observe the violent consequences of the war, to build friendships and human relations with the patients: victims of war. While conflicts keep killing in the Middle East, this daily glimpse on the MSF’s hospital shows strength and resilience but also pain and frustration: it takes doctors 8 hours to rebuild a finger, while a bomb kills hundreds in a second.
Translator Francesca Colantuoni