As new headlines surface about enduring turmoil and devastation in Syria, Direct Relief remains committed to supporting healthcare workers on the frontline of this crisis.
Direct Relief is working with Syrian Relief and Development, a group of doctors and nurses that have been working in Western Aleppo and Idlib Province. Idlib was the site of a devastating gas attack in April, and the appalling incident attests to the horrors of war and offers a grisly reminder to the world of the unceasing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Just hours after the deadly Sarin strike in Idlib Province on April 4, Direct Relief received an email from Dr. Ahmad Rami Moqdom, logistics manager for the Syrian American Medical Society. The message detailed the heartbreaking attack his group and others had just endured.
Direct Relief has provided Syrian Relief and Development with field medic packs, which contain an assortment of portable medicines.
Many local hospitals and clinics have been bombed and destroyed, forcing doctors and nurses to treat patients wherever they can. Emergency medical tents have also been sent by Direct Relief, and the tents allow a temporary space for triage care to take place.
Nearly 5 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the country’s civil war nearly six years ago, a conflict the United Nations has called the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. Another 9 million are internally displaced, meaning they’ve remained in the country but have had to flee their homes.
Within Syria, healthcare access is nearly impossible for people who have been displaced from their homes.
Direct Relief has worked to secure a large donation of critical antibiotics that will help fortify healthcare operations in the country. Other essential items, like emergency health kits, have also been sent. The kits meet the global standard for emergency response and can treat up to 1,000 patients for 30 days. A partnership was forged between United Muslim Relief and Syria Relief and Development to distribute critical medicines and supplies in the country.
Many Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan alone now host 4.7 million refugees, and the health needs of people in these countries are numerous. Below are some small snapshots of what Direct Relief has done in these countries to help.
Turkey is home to almost 3 million registered Syrian refugees. Direct Relief has been working with a public and private partnership between private humanitarian aid organization, ANSAGIAD, and AFAD, a Turkish authority. These public/private partnerships are critical to effectively delivering aid where it’s needed most, to Syrians living in formalized camps as well as millions of refugees living in urban areas near the Turkey/Syria border.
ANSAGIAD aids 17 hospitals serving approximately 1 million people, and Direct Relief has sent two large donations of medicine to ANSAGIAD valued at nearly $3 million. A third shipment is currently in process.
A Direct Relief emergency health kit has also been sent to the Syrian American Medical Society in Turkey, for their work with internally displaced people inside Syria.
Lebanon is hosting an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees, over 90 percent of which live outside of formal camps. That means that these refugees are more likely to seek care in community clinics and hospitals, placing a strain on that country’s healthcare safety net facilities.
Basic health services, like dental care, is also often lacking for refugee communities, and Direct Relief has committed $50,000 to humanitarian group ANERA Lebanon for a dental program in northern Lebanon focused on Syrian refugee children. Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits were also donated for refugee women in Lebanon.
Jordan hosts 655,000 Syrian refugees, with roughly 80 percent living outside formal camps. Non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, remain leading causes of death for refugees. To deal with this, Direct Relief gave $300,000 to the Royal Health Awareness Society for their Healthy Community Clinics program, which focuses on treating non-communicable diseases.
Tobacco use is also common among refugees, and smoking cessation gum was donated to the Royal Health Awareness Society. Other key items to manage chronic conditions, like insulin, needles and syringes have arrived in Amman and are being distributed to charitable healthcare providers by the Jordan Ministry of Health. Key donations have also been made to the Jordan Health Aid Society as well as the Directorate Royal Medical Services.
Efforts to assist to Syrians in need will continue into 2017, and Direct Relief remains committed to the health of those within that country’s borders and beyond.
At the hospital in Reyhanli, a small Turkish border town that took in many of the victims, the mourners gathered outside mostly came from just two extended families, Mr. Youssef’s and the Abu Amash family. The families are connected by marriage and both come from Khan Sheikhoun, the village in rebel-held Idlib Province that residents said had been hit with chemical weapons earlier that morning.