Photo by @Hammond_Robin for @icrc .
“They said that there was another bomb so I laid low and began to crawl,” says 30-year-old Yabintu who sells food in a market in Konduga in Borno state, Nigeria. “As I crawled, I realized that my body was pierced in many places, and I continued until I hid in the nearby bush.” The suspected bomb blast that killed many people in the market left her with injuries to her legs, arm and head. I met her in a specialist gunshot and bomb blast wounded ward set up and run by the ICRC in the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri. Around her in the ward the stitched up and gauze plugged gaping wounds of other women graphically illustrated the destructive force of sharp exploding metal on flesh. During the interview, the heat of the crowded ward and the pain from injuries still new, brought dripping sweat to Yabintu’s forehead. She explained how the risk of bomb blasts must be daily weighed: “Many (women) have lost their husbands and they do not have a means of livelihood,” she said. “If you go out, you get killed. And if you stay at home, there is nothing for you to eat.”
The Lake Chad region – Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad – has been ripped apart by conflict. Civilians have been targeted and killed, and over 2.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Millions more are in need of food, water, shelter and access to health care.
Men make war; women live with the consequences. At least that is the way it is largely perceived. While living with and reacting to those consequences, women are hardly passive victims, though. They grieve, they fight against the suffering, and many find they are forced to re-invent themselves, shedding an old identify and forging a new one shaped by war.
This work is from a project I made with The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). You can see the full story at www.nationalgeographic.com
The ICRC is a humanitarian organization working on all sides of conflict to alleviate people’s suffering. To see more from the A Woman’s War project, go to @icrc