Syria: Demining Urgently Needed in Raqqa as MSF Treats 33 Blast Victims in One Week

SYRIA 2017 © Diala Ghassan/MSF

RAQQA, SYRIA/AMSTERDAM/NEW YORK, JANUARY 12, 2018—Teams from Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treated 33 patients with blast injuries in Raqqa city, Syria, during the first week of 2018, underlining the urgent need for demining in and around the war-torn city.

Thousands of residents have returned since intense fighting subsided in Raqqa on October 17, 2017, and many more are expected to arrive. Yet injuries and deaths continue due to unexploded remnants of war and improvised explosive devices that litter Raqqa and surrounding communities. Children are often harmed; 13 of the 33 patients MSF treated last week were under 18 years old.

MSF is extremely concerned that demining activities are too limited in the region, due to a shortage of demining equipment and expertise. MSF calls on all warring parties and their allies, as well as demining organizations and donors, to increase mine clearance in Raqqa and its suburbs and to help inform people of the risks to protect them from avoidable deaths and injuries. 

Since October 17, MSF teams alone received a total of 271 people with blast injuries in Raqqa, 64 of whom were dead or dying on arrival. It is likely that such high numbers of injuries and deaths will continue in the coming months unless demining activities are increased so that homes, businesses, and fields are safe.