January 10, 2013

In the north of Syria's Idlib Province, civilians are terrorized by a strategy of intense and indiscriminate bombing and the wounded face few options for emergency medical care.



Syria 2012 © MSF

A makeshift hospital in Idlib Governorate, destroyed by armed forces at the end of March 2012

January 10, 2013 – In the north of Syria's Idlib Province, civilians are terrorized by a strategy of intense and indiscriminate bombing and the wounded face few options for emergency medical care, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

As fighting intensifies north of the road linking Aleppo and Idlib provinces, Syrian government forces are bombing towns and villages indiscriminately, endangering the lives of ordinary people.  An MSF team returned from one northern city in Idlib, which was repeatedly bombed over recent months. The only medical facility still functioning there is a secretly run clinic, staffed by local people and a few Syrian health workers.

"Since we’re prohibited from working on the side of the government forces, we’re not able to take an impartial view of the situation,” said Dr. Mego Terzian, MSF’s emergency operations manager. “But what we’re witnessing is a real strategy of terror, orchestrated by the Syrian government, against the people of this area.”

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Under intense shelling, the clinic's volunteer workers are struggling to treat large numbers of injured people. They keep the clinic running and evacuate the most seriously injured to hospitals outside the city at great personal risk.

"For a city that has seen a large portion of its residents leave, and displaced people move in from other bombed areas, there's an impressive sense of solidarity," said Dr. Adrien Marteau, a member of the MSF team. "People are stepping up to act as nurses or even surgeons because there's simply nobody else to do it. Faced with the seriousness of the injuries and the risks involved in evacuating patients, many of the wounded are dying because they are not getting treatment or cannot be evacuated in time," he said.

MSF doctors and nurses provide medical care in a hospital in another area of Idlib. Most of the patients are from the heavily bombarded city that the team visited in the north of the province.

Residents of the city, along with local medical staff and community workers, have been doing their best over the last 18 months to support each other despite the physical danger and severe shortages of essential supplies, including drinking water, bread, and powdered milk. There is no electricity in the area, and the price of gasoline has increased sharply. Community welfare committees are supporting some 1,300 destitute families who have lost homes, family members, and sources of income.

MSF is working in three hospitals in the north and northwest of Syria, in areas controlled by armed opposition groups. Medical teams are providing emergency care, including surgery, and are carrying out regular consultations. From June 2012 to the beginning of January 2013, MSF teams conducted more than 10,000 consultations and performed more than 900 surgical interventions. MSF is also providing medical and surgical services to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

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