Share

‘I saw dead children’

The aftermath of the bombing at a camp for internally displaced persons in Rann, NigeriaImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

“There was confusion, chaos everywhere,” recalls Alfred Davies

In a BBC interview, Alfred Davies, an MSF aid worker, relives the horror of this week’s erroneous bombing by the Nigerian military of a camp for internally displaced people in Rann, in which at least 90 people – including women and children – were killed and many more wounded.

Nigeria’s military has admitted that the attack was intended to target Boko Haram militants in the north-eastern town.

Alfred Davies says he and his small team were providing measles vaccination and giving food in a camp tent – when the first bomb exploded about 300m (980ft) from them.

“We had more than 100 people in the queue… waiting to get their supplies: babies, mothers… Everyone went on the ground after hearing the sound of the bomb… and everyone was terrified.

“There was confusion, chaos everywhere,” he recalls, adding that “people didn’t know where to go and what was happening.”


Alfred Davies, MSF

“We saw this woman dead, with her twins sitting next to her… they were crying and touching their mother, and there was no response. They are orphans”


About five minutes later, Mr Davies says, the second bomb hit – about 20m from where the first one fell.

Members of his team closer to where the bombs exploded then radioed him to tell that there were many wounded arriving for treatment in their tents.

At this point, recalls the experienced project co-ordinator from Liberia, he ordered to change the strategy “from distribution to mass casualty response”.

“And immediately we started to treat people. In one hour we had 52 people,” he says.

Image copyright
MSF

Image caption

Alfred Davies (centre) has been working for MSF for 15 years

In one place, he remembers, there were 20 people laying on the ground “in a very bad condition: bellies open, intestines on the floor… it was terrible. And these people were saying: ‘Help me, doctor! Can you help me?’

“Wounded people kept on coming,” Mr Davies continues, adding that very soon “our tents were full”.

“Some of them died in our tents.

“You’re in a complete state of confusion – who should you treat first?

“It was terrible to leave someone who was in less pain and treat the more seriously wounded, but one had to make the choice,” he admits.

“There were people who were bleeding profusely. All we could do at that moment was to put on bandages to cover wounds, until a doctor arrived.

“Yes, I saw dead children. I saw intestines of the dead children on the floor,” Mr Davies recalls.

He says that one of the victims was a woman who had been vaccinated just before the attack.

“We had given supplies to a woman with her baby twins and she was smiling, showing us her babies.

“And (later) we saw this woman dead, with her twins sitting next to her… they were crying and touching their mother, and there was no response. They are orphans.”

Leave a Comment