Syria: Emergency medical supplies delivered following heavy fighting in north-east

27 August 2015
Syria: Emergency medical supplies delivered following heavy fighting in north-east
ICRC medical supplies being loaded onto the plane at Damascus airport. / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

Damascus (ICRC) – Health-care needs are growing in north-eastern Syria as a result of the fighting, including a bomb explosion in Qamishli on 19 August. Medical supplies have been delivered this week to hospitals in the cities of Qamishli, Ras el-Ein and Hassakeh as part of a joint operation by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

"Hassakeh recently saw heavy fighting lasting several weeks, in which many people were hurt and required urgent medical care. Multiple frontlines make road access to Hassakeh difficult for regular deliveries of supplies. The materials we provided have helped replenish the hospital's stocks," said Béatrice Oechsli, the deputy head of the ICRC in Syria, who led the operation. The team visited the hospitals and talked to medical professionals and patients to ascertain for themselves the growing health-care needs.

Six tonnes of medical supplies were delivered altogether – enough to treat 300 seriously injured patients. Each one-tonne medical kit contains items such as dressings, plaster casts, suture materials, IV fluids and drugs. The kits were airlifted from Damascus to Qamishli, where one kit was taken to Qamishli hospital, another two kits to Ras el-Ein hospital and a further three kits to the national hospital in Hassakeh, 80 kilometres south of Qamishli.

Over four years of non-stop fighting has severely affected the Syrian health-care system. Dozens of health-care facilities have been destroyed and there are not enough qualified health-care professionals or decent medical supplies left to cope with the scale of the needs. On top of that, civilians living in besieged areas or areas heavily affected by fighting have little health care available to them.

"Access to health care is an inalienable right," said Ms Oechsli. "All parties involved in the fighting have a duty to safeguard health-care facilities and allow medical professionals to carry out their duties in an impartial manner. We appeal to all parties to ensure that the wounded and sick have access to life-saving care."

In Syria, the ICRC supports the SARC and local health authorities by providing medical supplies, generators and other equipment and supporting the SARC's mobile health units and physical rehabilitation programme for people with disabilities. It also provides treated bed-nets to prevent Leishmaniosis disease, repairs hospital water supplies and other infrastructure and trains medical staff. Since the beginning of 2015, over 800,000 people in Syria have benefited from the ICRC's health-related activities.

The ICRC has also been working on Hassakeh governorate's water supply system, with over 60 water projects undertaken in 2015 and benefitting roughly 80% of its population. The projects include maintaining and upgrading water pumping, supply and treatment plants and the water and sanitation system of centres hosting displaced people.

For further information, please contact:
Pawel Krzysiek, ICRC Damas, tel: +963 11 331 0482 ext.122 or +963 930 336 718
or Email: pkrzysiek@icrc.org, Twitter @PKrzysiekICRC

Medical items being unloaded at Ras-el-Ain hospital.  / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

Medical items being unloaded at Ras-el-Ain hospital. / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

ICRC and SARC staff speaking to a doctor at Qamishly hospital  / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

ICRC and SARC staff speaking to a doctor at Qamishly hospital / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

Medical items being unloaded at Hassakeh National hospital.  / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC

Medical items being unloaded at Hassakeh National hospital. / CC BY-NC-ND/ ICRC