Alain Kassa

Monrovia – A City on Fire

With photographs by award winning photographers Chris Hondros, Kris Torgeson, and Ryo Kameyama – The summer of 2003 was particularly deadly in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city, already disfigured by fourteen years of war. City on Fire was this year one of the biggest hits in vogue in Liberia. The author of this song, King O'Brian, a contemporary Liberian artist, was not referring to Monrovia troubles but to a new fashion of red wigs imported from Nigeria that caped Liberian women of all ages. This document is part of a logbook and traces the life day after day of a medical emergency team which set up a war hospital at home in Monrovia and saved more than 1.700 patients in one of the most affected area during this last episode of war that left at least 2,000 dead and 3,000 wounded in two months’ time.

“When we read the book each time it's the same emotion, we think our¬selves in the spot. We are held in suspense throughout the story, a unique testimony. This is factual, written in a journalistic style at times and some¬times as a script for a documentary.” (Marie-Eve Raguenaud, MD, MSc, MSF staff 1997–2009)

“A gripping first-hand account by an onsite medical humanitarian organization manager describing what humans can do to one another when social traditions and customs disappear, even when many continue to act with humanity and dignity. Not only are horrors reported, but also how dedicated humanitarian workers who don’t evacuate can succeed in heroically aiding the suffering population. Included are facts about outside influences in Liberia down through the years. This short history, based on the author’s personal journal, displays the courage and dedication of today’s professional humanitarian volunteers and represents why MSF is my wife and my only charity.” (Daniel Clarke Flynn, J.D., Former international Corporate Human Resources executive)

Alain Kassa, graduated in International Relations (Paris I), is a Doctors Without Borders member since 23 years. He performs several missions in Africa, Europe and Asia. He was Head of Mission in Liberia during the last year of the conflict.
238 printed pages
Original publication


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