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Zahkem/Wounds: When War Comes Home: Emergency presents a photo exhibit of Giulio Piscitelli in London

LONDON, NOVEMBER 8 – On 7 November, EMERGENCY – a humanitarian non-governmental organisation that has offered free treatment to over 10 million victims of war, landmines and poverty since 1994 – presented ‘Zakhem | Wounds: When War Comes Home’, a photographic exhibition by Giulio Piscitelli commissioned to honour the charity’s 25th anniversary.  The London event follows the success of the exhibition in both Milan and Venice.

The launch night was held at the Old Truman Brewery with photographer Giulio Piscitelli, EMERGENCY president Rossella Miccio, and Christina Lamb, Chief Foreign Correspondent for The Sunday Times. Zakhem will continue to show until Sunday 10 November.

In 2018, Italian photographer Giulio Piscitelli visited EMERGENCY’s Surgical Centres in Kabul and Lashkar-Gah, Afghanistan. There he met war victims who continue to face public indifference after 18 years of conflict and vowed to tell their stories: stories where violence punctures daily life without warning, stories that reveal the wounds – zakhem in Dari – left by the conflict.

 “When I first went to Afghanistan, the Russians were there, then there was the civil war, then the Taliban, then more fighting. War is very much ongoing, even if people abroad think it isn’t. More people were killed last year than in any other year of the conflict. In difficult moments, one of the best places to go is the EMERGENCY Surgical Centre for War Victims in Kabul. It’s an incredibly inspiring place. The dedication of the staff, the setting of the place, with beautiful gardens and murals, there’s a feeling of tranquility despite the horrifying injuries. When you speak to the patients there, they are not just being injured by Taliban fighters, but also American air strikes and Afghan government forces. Around 1,000 air strikes were recorded in September – the most in any single month. It’s really important that we focus on this country together. When I was there, I was struck by how young the population is. When I asked them what they would do in peace, they couldn’t answer… because they’ve never seen it.” said Christina Lamb.

Shell and shrapnel wounds take centre stage in the exhibition because ultimately, war begins with them, but deeper wounds are also revealed here, like the fear and exasperation that never leave those living in the midst of violence.

“When I went to Afghanistan to start this project, I started work as I normally do as a journalist. Part of the photos from ‘Zakhem’ are normal photojournalist photos… but when I arrived at the EMERGENCY hospital in Kabul, I looked at the patient files, which were something I hadn’t normally seen. One of the first objects I found in these files was a landmine that had scarred a boy terribly. I looked at that object and thought, ‘this  has been inside that boy’s body’. I continued to take portraits of the patient,s but also of the various objects – one of the many faces of the war. I was surrounded by white, as I was in a hospital, so I thought I could create a diptych which could get people to think about these victims’ deep relationship with their surroundings.” explained Giulio Piscitelli.

 Says Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY: For us, to share what we see daily in our hospitals is a way of giving back justice to the people we see in these beautiful pictures, who normally stay without a name and are seen as collateral damage. Their lives and dreams destroyed by a mad war that has destroyed the country for 41 years. Different fighting parties change, but what stays the same is that the people who pay the highest price are civilians. Afghanistan is a big part of the story of EMERGENCY. We’ve treated over 6 million people there”. (@OnuItalia)

 

Alessandra Baldini
Alessandra Baldinihttps://onuitalia.com
Alessandra Baldini e’ stata la prima donna giornalista parlamentare per l’Ansa, poi corrispondente a Washington e responsabile degli uffici Ansa di New York e Londra. Dirige OnuItalia.

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