Since 3 October, the escalation of hostilities in northwest Syria has taken a huge toll on the people living in the area and had inflicted devastating consequences on health facilities. At least 78,000 people have been reportedly displaced, while efforts of rendering aid are currently hindered by the ongoing hostilities. According to local health authorities, at least 46 people have been killed and 279 others injured, including women and children. In MSF-supported facilities, 60 wounded people, including two women, have been treated; five people have died.
Healthcare facilities were not spared from the shelling of the Syrian government forces as well. Three hospitals in Idlib, the University Hospital, the National Hospital, and Al-Mohafatha Hospital were hit, impacting their work capacity, and leaving them partially out of service.
“Such attacks are unacceptable and have disastrous consequences for already vulnerable people and on the already fragile health system in northwest Syria, and are condemned in the strongest terms”, says Siham Hajaj, MSF head of mission for northwest Syria. “All warring parties should respect International Humanitarian Law, protect people and civilian infrastructure, and safeguard medical facilities.” Adds Hajaj.
In addition, approximately 19 hospitals in Idlib and Western Aleppo have ceased providing non-essential services and are now solely dedicated on emergency care, making access to healthcare even more challenging. Local health authorities are urging the efficient use of medical personnel and the engagement of specialists to major referral hospitals in Idlib and closer to the frontline.
“We are in contact with hospitals and medical facilities on the frontlines, and they have been informed that we are fully prepared to receive patients directly from them”, says Abo Mahmood Al Homsi*, MSF medical activity manager in Idlib.
Al-Sanaa camp for internally displaced people in Daret Ezza, where MSF was conducting activities in the community, was shelled. Women and children in the camp have been evacuated to safer areas. However, the conditions in these areas are extremely challenging due to the lack of essential services such as water, latrines, food, and shelter. The overcrowded conditions exacerbate the difficulties.
We have delivered medicines and supplies to multiple displacement reception centres in the region. These include centres in Mashhad Ruhein, Termanin, and Kafr Beni. In addition, we have donated blood transport bags to the blood bank in Atarib.
Medicines and surgical kits, and other supplies have been provided to five hospitals and two medical points in Idlib, while logistical support has been extended to the Atmeh Charitable Hospital.
"Urgent action needs to be taken to improve trauma and surgical capabilities in Idlib. These resources are already limited in the area. This is important for providing care to those injured in the war, as well as dealing with the long-term effects of increased explosive contamination in populated areas", says Siham Hajaj, MSF head of mission for northwest Syria.
In the city of Ariha, where artillery and missile shelling has caused deaths and numerous injuries, MSF, in collaboration with local partners, provided essential care to four injured people at a health centre in the city while other were referred to hospitals in Idlib for further treatment.
This new cycle of violence will only exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in northwest Syria as a result of over a decade of war. MSF is committed to assessing the medical and humanitarian needs of affected communities. We remain dedicated to delivering life-saving medical care to people in need.
*Name changed for security reasons