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Tajikistan: The ravages of forgotten mines

20-12-2001 News Release 01/51

   

 

Zuboidullo is 14. His older brother is a paraplegic. He himself lost both legs when he stepped on a mine at the beginning of November. His father has still not been able to bring himself to tell his wife the truth. She waits at home, expecting Zuboidullo to return soon, once the doctors have treated his injuries. In this region, a woman does not question her husband’s orders, so there’s little risk of her going to the hospital and discovering the full horror of the tragedy.

Zuboidullo is showing a great deal of courage and maturity. With the agreement of his father, the ICRC transported him from Garm to the capital, Dushanbe, 200 km away, to be fitted with two artificial legs. This process will take several weeks. First, he will have to undergo a second, minor operation on one of the stumps before the artificial legs can be built. Then he will have to undergo a period of rehabilitation, learning to walk on them. Zuboidullo knows. But he’s desperate to avoid going home unable to walk. He couldn’t bear to see the pain in his mother’s eyes. If he can move around on his own, she will suffer a little less.

For now, Zuboidullo is living with his uncle in Dushanbe. The ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan are monitoring his case with particular care. In total, 2,500 amputees have been registered in Tajikistan, of whom almost half have already been fitted with artificial limbs. In the orthopaedic centre run by the ICRC and the Canadian Red Cross Society, Zuboidullo and his father have discovered that you can learn to walk on artificial legs. They can smile hopefully as they watch the many rehabilitation patients practising in the exercise room.