From October 1985 until January 1988, warring factions using everything from heavy artillery to sniper fire pounded the tiny Palestinian refugee camp in West Beirut known as Shatila. Dr Chris Ciannous, a Canadian surgeon, was there amidst the blood, the horror and the senseless waste of the siege. Somehow he, another doctor and a handful of nurses maintained a hospital under the rubble. This is his unforgettable story. Set against the complex political background of the Middle East, this book is an account of simple courage and ingenuity, of human dignity in circumstances of war and deprivation, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Isolated from the rest of Lebanon, Shatila was soon deprived of its regular electricity, water and medical supplies. Crowded into a space the size of four football pitches, Shatila refugees had to survive not only constant bombardment, but diminished rations of food and drink. The horror of their experience comes across vividly; the suffering of the children, the shattered bodies and the hopeless cases. Dr Ciannou, a leading battle-surgery expert, describes the severe technical obstacles he had to overcome to perform necessary operations.
During five months of fierce fighting, he and his medical team undertook 200 major operations and between 400 and 500 minor ones. While 110 people were buried, 650 others who were seriously injured were saved. 8pp b&w photographs