“My whole family was sitting on the roof of our building when suddenly the bombs started falling," Raneen explains. "I remember seeing my body riddled with shrapnel and my leg covered in blood. Out of my family, I had the worst injuries.”
Thirteen-year-old Raneen had to wait before she could be treated. “We couldn’t go out,” she says. “It was too dangerous. For two weeks, we were cooped up at home. Finally, when we managed to get to a health center, the doctors did an x-rays and found that my leg was broken. They operated on me two days later. We were back home within a week.”
But the story doesn't end there. On the day of her operation, time had been cut short due to casualties pouring into the health center. In the midst of all the chaos, her doctors made a mistake. Instead of healing, Raneen's leg got worse. Nearly a month after surgery, the army entered their district and Raneen and her family were finally able to flee Mosul.
"We managed to get to a hospital where I had a second operation. The doctors said I needed to go to a center for people with severe injuries for another operation." For the past two months, Raneen has been receiving rehabilitation care from our team at the Hamdaniya Hospital, the fourth hospital she's stayed at since fleeing.
Mouna, a physical therapist on our team assesses the flexibility and state of her leg. Her fracture is taking a long time to heal. The external fixations protruding from her leg shows just how violent her accident was. Mouana suggests she takes a few steps along the hospital corridor using her new walker. A worried look crosses Raneen’s face, as she hasn’t walked in months.
With support from her older sister and Mouana, Raneen manages to get off the bed. Within minutes, Raneen has left the room and is walking slowly down the corridor. Other patients in the hospital help lift her spirits with encouraging words. Raneen smiles. She hopes that she can return home soon, relying on nothing but her own two feet.
Fighting between armed groups and government forces in Iraq in recent years has displaced more than three million people. An estimated 11 million civilians already need humanitarian assistance in the country. The Mosul offensive has presented international organizations with an unprecedented challenge. More than 485,000 people have fled the city since last October.
Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis
More than 200,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency operations in Iraq in 2014. Our actions are regularly reviewed to take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraqi territory. Handicap International currently organizes population protection activities, raises awareness of the risk from mines and conventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears potentially hazardous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation and psychosocial support, supports health centers, organizes training and advocacy, and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) within their services.