Tunisian Red Crescent stretcher teams at the Libya border

Published: 28 February 2011 11:30 CET

By Joe Lowry, Ras Jdir

The crowd pressed against the border fence is a 500-metre deep wall of people. People are getting through in ones and twos. Four teams of Tunisian Red Crescent stretcher bearers are on high alert, metres away.

A man pushes his way through the melee and fall to the ground.

Up goes the shout: “Run!”

The Red Crescent team sprints over, and chair-lifts a young Asian man to a stretcher. They dash the 200 metres to a field medical tent where their colleague Dr Idris Azabou takes over.

The man clutches at is chest. Idris tries to communicate in French, Arabic, English. “Viet Nam, Viet Nam” says the young man.

The medics loosen his clothes, take his blood pressure, which is soaring, and check his blood sugar levels.

After a while, with patient, gentle words, he begins to recover. He asks ifhe can go and smoke. The doctors smile a firm No. “That’s why you fainted. You’re not fit. Stop smoking”.

“We are seeing an increase in people coming here in recent hours”, says Idris. “It’s  nearly always stress. They’ve been caught in that crowd  for hours and they haven’t had anything to eat or drink.”

As we talk, two more patients are stretchered in. It’s going to be a busy night.

The teams have been on the go for over 48 hours, snatching a few minutes sleep whenever they can. Tired beyond belief, they carry on. Humanity is at work here.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 member National Societies . As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright