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City doc, first to enter Syria, will serve in Iraq

  • Thu, 15 Feb 2018 04:36

He was the first emergency medical personnel to enter the war-ravaged Raqqa in Syria.

Now, the Bengaluru-based Dr Nagaraja Mallikarjuna will return to the conflict zone, this time across the border in Iraq.

Dr Mallikarjuna, who returned to the city after serving in Raqqa, said he will start his journey to Iraq on February 15.

Part of Medecins Sans Frontières - or Doctors Without Borders - an NGO active in war-hit regions and countries rocked by epidemics, Dr Mallikarjuna resides in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.

He began attending emergency cases at a hospital in Raqqa in July 2017. "We used to get 100 emergency cases a day," he recalled. "This included Kurdish soldiers, civilians and even toddlers."

Served at St Johns

Despite his vast experience in treating toddlers at the emergency ward in St Johns Hospital, where he worked for six years, nothing emotionally prepared Dr Mallikarjuna for the sight of one-year-olds and two-year-olds arriving in large numbers with gruesome injuries. Obviously, gunshot wounds topped the list of emergencies.

Dr Mallikarjuna stayed 200 metres from the camp close to the Turkish border amid the staccato rhythms of cross-firing.

In the final phase of the war, people tried returning home when Raqqa was declared free from the clutches of the Islamic State, unaware that their houses were booby trapped. This killed hundreds, the doctor recalled.

The doctor concealed his visits to the war zone from his mother. "If she knows, she would certainly stop me from going," he said.

Deccan Herald - City

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