Doctors working in northern Syria will no longer share the locations of medical facilities after doing so failed to stop them being targeted by airstrikes. More than 25 hospitals were bombed in the past month.The coordinates of nine of those facilities were shared with the UN in an effort to protect them from being bombed and encourage some form of accountability for attacks. Instead, they also came under fire.
The move reflects a growing desperation on the part of doctors and medical staff working inside Idlib, as they struggle to treat patients while dealing with an unprecedented level of attacks on their facilities.
An open letter signed by dozens of doctors from around the world and published over the weekend said the targeting of medical facilities “has forced the hospitals that remain to operate under a state of emergency, only treating the most urgent cases and unable to take in patients for routine care”.
The targeting of healthcare facilities is not new in Syria’s civil war. The scale of violence has forced doctors to flee, hide, or face destruction.
Other organizations have taken to setting up mobile clinics, which can relocate to avoid being targeted. However, reports indicate even mobile clinics are being attacked. In addition, many mobile clinics cannot provide specific and specialized services.
Doctors had hoped that sharing coordinates with the UN would lead to some form of accountability for the frequent attacks, even if they didn’t stop them. However, some feel it has put them in greater danger.
Thousands more people have fled violence in northwest Syria, the United Nations and UOSSM reported on May 23rd, as violence spiked in the region.
THOUSANDS FLEE, HUNDREDS DIE
More than 200,000 people have now fled the violence since the end of April, the United Nations said, and are in urgent need of food and protection.
The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), which provides assistance to health facilities, reported the number of displaced this month had spiked to more than 300,000.
Most of the displaced have sought refuge along the border with Turkey, UOSSM said, with camps springing up in the shadow of the frontier wall.
However, 44,000 people have moved to the regional capital Idlib and another 50,000 have gone to Maarat al-Numan, another large town where an air strike on a marketplace killed 12 people on Tuesday night.
Since the end of April, there have been 20 attacks on healthcare facilities and one on an ambulance, the United Nations said, putting 19 facilities that serve at least 200,000 people out of action. Some were hit more than once, it said.
The UOSSM Safety and Security Director recently visited the region and sent the following distress call for help. The situation is dire.
Peace and blessings be upon you
My Dear Brothers and Sisters, God bless you all
I am not sending these words because I am from Hama and my city, KafrNabooda, was bombarded leading to destruction, fires and displacement. I am speaking as a Syrian from the most beautiful land on earth, with the most amazing people on Earth. I am speaking on behalf of anyone who has lived on this land…
On behalf of your brothers and sisters from Hama, Damascus, Homs, Idlib, Al Raqqa, Al Dayr, Daraa, Golan Heights, Al Sahel, and Aleppo etc., the people that now live in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib…they are people that were displaced from Eastern Ghouta and Northern Homs, and Daraa, and Quneitra and Aleppo. They are, in this blessed month, in desperate need for people to lend a helping hand…they are need of those that will shelter them…that will feed them…that will ease the pain and suffering… that will stand by them in their disastrous situation/calamity…
This catastrophe and disaster is larger than the catastrophe of Aleppo and Ghouta and Homs and all other Syrian areas…The numbers of displaced have exceeded 400,000 and I am not exaggerating…20% of them are without shelter, living under the olive trees…over 35% are in Mosques, schools, community shelters and government buildings… and over 30% are in displacement camps; with over 3 families in each tent…in the worst of conditions…there is not enough food, not enough water, not enough blankets, and not even enough toilets…. The rest of the people sold their gold and personal belongings and rented homes for $100 that don’t even have the basic necessities for a home or are staying as guests with friends and family or generous people that welcomed them into their homes.
I am speaking like this because the displaced fled with the clothes on their backs…they fled barefoot…they fled in search of safety for them and their families after the bombings would not stop. Even if a ceasefire is agreed upon and the bombings stop, over 50% of these people cannot return home because they have no home to return to; they were destroyed by the bombings.
Advocacy is important…calling out the guilty criminals is important…showing the pain and suffering and the size of the catastrophe is important as well…but what is most important is our role as human beings to alleviate the suffering in any way we can…alleviation is not a pain killer pill or the salary of a nurse or doctor…alleviation is by protecting their dignity…by providing a tent to give them shelter…or some food and water to stop their hunger and thirst…some clothing to give them some dignity and make their children smile as Eid approaches…
There is so much need… so much we can do…I know that UOSSM operations on the ground in the Northern region are doing what they can to respond to the medical need and the operation of mobile clinics and support of healthcare centers, but right now the more important role is not the medical role but the humanitarian role which is part of our mission and goals…
The response of other humanitarian organizations is almost non-existent… the people are in desperate need for your support. I’m sorry this is so long but I wanted to relay this message as my duty in front of God and of those in need. May God bless you all and reward you
TO JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN TO #ACT4IDLIB PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Over 260,000 civilians have been internally displaced in the past 10 days after Daraa came under a fierce bombardment. Most of the IDPs are staying in the open, exposed to the elements, with no shelter, no water, no sanitary facilities, not even a tent, or cover to protect them from the scorching sun. They are near the Jordanian border, which is closed.
Five children died a few days ago, after being stung by scorpions with no access to medical care. Scorpions are common in this area.
At least 212 civilians have been killed and over 500 have been wounded. UOSSM's mobile clinics are traveling throughout the area trying to help the people in this massive crisis.Read more
Three UOSSM staff members have been killed in airstrikes in the past week in Daraa as the fierce bombardment continues to escalate. Five medical facilities have been attacked and put out of service, including UOSSM's Busr Al-Harir PHC, leaving tens of thousands with very little access to medical care and emergency care and relief, as the bombing and shelling continues to injure and kill every day. Since June 19, over 150 have been killed, at least 300 were wounded, and at least 100,000 have become internally displaced. Most of the victims are women and children.
On June 21, Maysoun Harbat, a UOSSM midwife, was killed along with her daughter in Daraa as a result of heavy shelling. Her other daughter was also severely injured.
On June 25, Abdulhadi Al Hariri, a volunteer UOSSM Ambulance driver, was killed in a double tab strike as he was trying to evacuate a wounded victim from the scene of an attack. Al Hariri was volunteering with UOSSM and the White Helmets to help those in need of relief. Abdulhadi had five children.
On June 27, Yusuf Ayyash, a UOSSM warehouse worker was killed in an attack along with his wife and daughter.Read more
The UOSSM Zaafaraneh Primary Health Care Center was attacked on Sunday and put out of service. The PHC provided free health care to approximately 6000 patients and most importantly provided 120 deliveries a month, among other primary health care services. The center was damaged by an airstrike that hit 30 feet away. The center was among three medical facilities attacked in Homs in the past two days as Homs is being bombarded.Read more
42 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds affected by the chemical attack on Douma in eastern Ghouta on Saturday April 7. Many of the victims were women and children and experienced symptoms consistent with inhaling toxic gas. *Earlier, UOSSM reported 70 confirmed dead, but due to conflicting reports, and difficulty gathering data we are confident that at least 42 are confirmed dead, those numbers are expected to rise. Some of the symptoms victims experienced include: cyanosis, foaming of the mouth, cornea irritation, and the strong odor of a chlorine-like substance.
There are an alarming number of malnourished children that were forcefully displaced from eastern Ghouta. Almost 12% of children examined were malnourished.
UOSSM, along with other NGOs on the ground at the destination point, examined and tested all children that were displaced. The number of malnourished was high.
A total of 9828 children were tested and of those 903 children were diagnosed with acute malnutrition and 263 were diagnosed with severe malnutrition.
This is just one group of almost 10,000 children. There are still over 150,000 besieged in Douma in eastern Ghouta. Please click here to read the full malnutrition report.
Several children became the faces of the children of Ghouta. Karim, who lost his eye became the center of the #SolidarityWithKarim campaign, where people all over the world would take a selfie covering their left eye.
Qasem's story also became very well known as the image of his bandaged face went viral on social media. Both Qasem and Karim lost their mothers in attacks.
Click here to read the full story about Qasem.
Noor and Alaa's videos went viral as well as they would send out video tweets about their terrifying situation in Ghouta.
All these children have been taken to Turkey, and were reunited together. Qasem and Karim will finally the medical care that they have needed for so many months.