Ongoing economic sanctions on Syria, in addition to an economic crisis and currency devaluation in 2021, have already considerably worsened living conditions for communities in all areas. According to UN agencies, food prices are up by more than 220 percent, while 80 percent of the population remains under the poverty line and 90 percent of children now rely on humanitarian aid.
Over the past year, particularly during MSF's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in northeast Syria, MSF has witnessed firsthand how curtailing access to aid affects people’s lives and health. The decision of the UN Security Council not to renew the UN cross-border aid mechanism via the al-Yarubiyah border crossing prevented lifesaving assistance from reaching northeast Syria through Iraq, with dire consequences. This scenario must not be repeated in the northwest this year, MSF said.
MSF calls on permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to renew the cross-border mechanism, as well as to reinstate the cross-border points of Bab al-Salam crossing to the northwest and al-Yarubiyah crossing to the northeast. Crossing borders remains the only viable humanitarian channel to cover growing needs in northern Syria.
Over the past decade of conflict, MSF has consistently adapted to the changing context in and around Syria to continue responding to growing humanitarian and medical needs in the country. This ranges from trauma and wound care, to maternal and child health services, as well as vaccination campaigns aimed at preventing the spread of deadly diseases.
MSF is currently supporting eight hospitals in northwest Syria, including a burn care center, in addition to 12 primary health care centers and five ambulances for referrals. In addition, MSF supports 14 mobile clinics serving more than 80 camps for internally displaced people. MSF is also running water, sanitation, and hygiene activities in nearly 90 camps across the northwest.
In northeast Syria, MSF is supporting two COVID-19 inpatient facilities and one comprehensive primary health care clinic, which includes an emergency room, and provides treatment for noncommunicable diseases and malnutrition. MSF supports the population of al-Hol camp with water and sanitation, nutrition care, and primary health care, as well as routine vaccination in 12 locations.
Most recently, MSF has guided health care facilities in responding to COVID-19, following an increase in case numbers. Six COVID-19 isolation and treatment centers were opened in northern Syria in the past year along with rapid diagnostic testing services provided through mobile clinics. MSF is also hosting World Health Organization (WHO)-trained COVID-19 vaccination teams at its health facilities in the northwest and assisting with health promotion activities to address COVID-19 prevention and vaccine hesitancy.