Four days after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that killed more than 35,000 people and injured tens of thousands, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are continuing their emergency relief efforts in north-west Syria. We currently receive very little international support from abroad. Our work is essential, but also a drop in the ocean, because the need in the region is immense. We cover the basics and provide food, water and medical supplies.
Most Syrian hospitals were already facing many difficulties and bottlenecks due to a lack of humanitarian aid funds and difficult access to this landlocked area. Bab Al-Hawa was the only crossing point for humanitarian convoys into north-western Syria and was heavily politicized before the disaster. It was already difficult to bring supplies and medicines from Turkey to Syria.
Some survivors, if not hospitalized, have lost everything: their homes, their clothing, access to food, sometimes part of their family, their money…
After the earthquakes, the pass was closed for three days and only reopened yesterday, with very little traffic at the moment. Until now, humanitarian organizations had to fall back on the emergency reserves they had on the ground. There is no time to waste in helping the people of this region and the delivery of relief supplies is vital. Two million people live in displacement camps, often in open tents, exposed to the wind.
more and more displaced
Just a week before the earthquake, a snowstorm swept through the area. Living conditions have deteriorated significantly. We are donating heaters, blankets and mattresses which are vital in these climatic conditions as temperatures drop below freezing at night. Currently, more and more people are being forced to move to these camps, and reception centers have opened to accommodate more displaced people. So far there are 15 in the Idlib region and we have set up mobile clinics to offer medical consultations in five of them. We will expand this activity in the coming days.
Our organization has also donated medical supplies to more than 10 hospitals. We respond to many needs including trauma, obstetrics and dialysis. We also sent medical staff from our Atmeh Hospital, which specializes in treating burns, to assist other hospitals whose staff was overwhelmed by the number of injuries. Our surgeons could help them. We also mobilize our ambulances for inter-hospital transfers.
Two million people live in displacement camps, often in open tents, exposed to the wind
Every day, our teams tell us tragic stories. Some survivors, if not hospitalized, have lost everything: their homes, their clothing, access to food, sometimes part of their family, their money, everything… Now they live in tents. They need clothes and hygiene items, they need water and food, they need everything.
Humanitarian teams must also protect these people from cholera, which has been ravaging the region since last September and which is spreading under such precarious conditions and lack of access to drinking water. We have been fighting this disease for months, but our organization can only cover part of the need, especially given the worsening situation. For many residents of this territory, the living conditions have become even more catastrophic.
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