April 13, 2023
Doctors of the World warns of the humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants abandoned in the desert in Assamaka (Niger)
Throughout the war, civilians and health facilities have been targeted indiscriminately by warring parties. Fundamental human rights are violated every day. Syrians continue to “disappear”and thousands are detained and tortured in Syrian jails such as Saydnaya. The conflict has become so complex that many watchdogs have ceased trying to accurately count the number of casualties.
Of the estimated 400,000 people killed in the war, 50,000 were children. The medical needs within Syria are vast, and more than 50% of Syrian medical experts have fled the country. Doctors of the World has been working in Syria since 2008, increasing our capacity in 2011 in response to the conflict.
Without clean water and secure healthcare, a cholera outbreak has begun to spread throughout Syria. The situation is dire, requiring urgent and sustainable action to further prevent the destruction of essential infrastructure and the further deterioration of the humanitarian and health situation for the most vulnerable people.
The outbreak has mainly spread in the northern part of the country, beginning in September 2022. The first cholera case was confirmed in Jarablus district of the Aleppo Governorate on September 19, while a total of 10,750 suspected cholera cases have been reported as of November 16 from North West Syria with about 33% of suspected cases from IDP camps. 10 people have lost their lives due to cholera, and 311 were tested positive so far.
The outbreak occurred due to a contaminated water well in the region. It is a keen reminder as to why it is so important to continue to support and sustain critical infrastructure, as well as establish humanitarian corridors so that essential services may be safely delivered.
DotW Turkey has mobilized its team to address the growing cholera outbreak. So far it has directly reached 2,458 people and indirectly 12,290 people in need, focusing on preventative measures. Mohamad Şahin, Doctors of the World (DotW) Turkey’s Syria Programme Coordinator adds, “We join the fight against the cholera outbreak in North West Syria by delivering awareness-raising sessions about cholera prevention through community health workers. We also increased the oral rehydration solution stocks for quick intervention in cholera cases since the disease requires immediate treatment and it can cause death within hours.”
In Syria, many buildings and shelters have been destroyed, the hospitals damaged and overwhelmed. Many healthcare workers have suspended their services because they are dealing with the consequences of the disaster for themselves and their families. Doctors of the World has five clinics open in Idlib and has started a temporary mobile medical team of doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists visiting neighborhoods and new camps to provide an emergency response to people affected by the earthquake.
Also, we know that mental health support is essential after a traumatic event of this scale. The vast majority of individuals affected are in need of psychological support. Our psychologists have been sent into the field to provide psychological first aid for post-disaster trauma.
Since the fall of Aleppo in December 2016, the international community has decided to ignore Syria. But the terror continues: the civilian population continues to suffer horrendous physical and psychological trauma.
Doctors of the World works to maintain the availability of drugs and medical equipment in Syrian conflict zones through supply lines supported by local partners and staff. Without these extremely risky but vital supply lines we would be unable to continue our work in Syria.
We have also created a number of award-winning campaigns to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees, including I’m Moving To Canada, Just Like Us, Get The Real Story and our billboard campaign, Out Of Sight Out Of Mind.