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MSF Increases Medical Response to Syrian Conflict
November 6, 2012
Syria 2012 © Rachael Craven
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is increasing its medical activities to help victims of the conflict in Syria. MSF is providing emergency and surgical treatment for the wounded as well as other medical care for people displaced from their homes within Syria and for refugees who have escaped to neighboring countries.
Inside Syria, MSF teams are striving to meet the needs of people caught up in the conflict, but restrictions and insecurity prevent the teams from extending their work or gaining an overview of the humanitarian and medical needs in all the affected regions.
Treating the Wounded in Syria
Over the past four months, MSF has opened four hospitals in northern Syria in areas controlled by armed opposition groups. In these hospitals, MSF teams are providing emergency medical treatment including surgery.
Since the end of June 2012, MSF teams have treated more than 2,500 patients and carried out about 550 surgical procedures. Many of these were for violence-related injuries including gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds, open fractures, and explosive-related injuries. Women and children are among the patients, along with combatants from several opposition groups and government forces. As the conflict has evolved, the hospital activities have fluctuated in accordance with the ability of people to access health facilities.
Fighting has also displaced people from their homes. The population in one Syrian town where MSF is working has increased to 30,000 people over the last few months. Many of the displaced families are sheltering in schools and public buildings. In one site, MSF teams are providing people with clean water and are evaluating additional relief activities.
In response to the increasing medical needs in Syria and an overall lack of medical supplies, MSF has donated tons of medical and relief items to field hospitals and clinics in Homs, Idlib, Hama, and Deraa governorates and to the Syrian Red Crescent in Damascus.
Surgical Treatment for Syrian Refugees
MSF is also treating victims of violence from Syria in its surgical program in Amman, Jordan, which initially opened in 2006 to treat victims of the war in Iraq.
Over the past four months, approximately 45 percent of new patients admitted to the surgical hospital were Syrians. Between June 2011 and September 2012, 289 Syrian patients were admitted, half of whom underwent surgery. Psychological counseling and free accommodation are also provided for patients undergoing treatment. MSF medical liaison officers in Jordan have also visited the Zaatari refugee camp—home to 30,000 Syrian refugees—to identify wounded people requiring surgery.
Medical Aid for Refugees in Countries Bordering Syria
As the crisis in Syria intensifies, thousands of people are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. MSF is providing basic health care and conducting mental health consultations for Syrian refugees arriving in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Most Syrian refugees entering Lebanon have settled in the northern city of Tripoli. MSF is providing medical assistance in Tripoli, as well as in the Bekaa Valley, the main crossing point into Lebanon for people fleeing Syria. To date, MSF teams have conducted more than 11,600 medical consultations and more than 1,700 individual psychological consultations.
In northern Iraq, MSF is the main health care provider in Domeez Refugee Camp, where more than 15,000 people have settled. Since last May, MSF medical teams have provided more than 20,500 consultations.
In Turkey, MSF has been working in the border town of Kilis and in the capital, Istanbul, providing mental health support to civilians fleeing the conflict.
MSF remains committed to assisting all victims of the conflict and plans to expand its activities in Syria and surrounding countries.