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Russian Federation: War surgery seminar in northern Caucasus

30-12-2003 News Release 03/165

From 16 to 18 December, 26 surgeons from the northern Caucasus took part in the first-ever seminar on war surgery organized by the ICRC in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino Balkaria.

It was a valuable opportunity for specialists from civilian and military hospitals in Chechnya, Daghestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia-Alania, Kabardino Balkaria and Stavropolsky Kray to exchange information and share their experience in the field.

" Our colleagues in Chechen hospitals have been working under very difficult circumstances for many years,” said Chris Giannou, one of the seminar’s speakers and head of the ICRC’s surgery unit. “They have had little chance to learn the latest developments in war surgery. The ICRC has done what it can in practical terms to help them by providing supplies and equipment, but nothing takes the place of upgrading your surgical knowledge, especially when it comes to war wounds " .

The outbreak of armed conflict or large-scale criminal violence involving the use of military-style weapons brings new challenges for surgeons: accustomed to the standard surgery of peacetime, they suddenly have to deal with emergency trauma of a type they have never before encountered. And the circumstances of war do nothing to ease the learning process.

International humanitarian law states that combatants may not harm medical personnel, the wounded or the sick. Getting the warring parties to obey these rules remains a priority for the ICRC worldwide. As Chris Giannou told the participants, " Only by talking day-in, day-out about respecting medical work can we ensure that our hospitals, our colleagues and ultimately our patients are protected, even when the bullets are flying " .

 For further information, please contact:  

 Flore Blancpain, ICRC Nalchik, tel. ++78 662 44 23 41  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58