Refugee Doctors (Part 3): Dr Hamza Issa's interview

Dr Hamza Issa, 56, Darashakran Camp

Hamza is a general doctor from Qamishli in Northern Syria. He was working at a health centre in rural Al-Hasakahin 2012 when it was attacked and ransacked by an armed group who told him he could no longer provide his medical services.

'Arrested and interviewed'
“We tried to continue working despite the escalation of fighting between the different groups,” he says,“and we tried to tell the groups who attacked us that we had sworn a medical oath which obliged us to treat all patients, but it made no difference. The threats continued and we were arrested and interrogated several times.”

Determined to keep working, Hamza moved to the town of Al-Qahtaniyah, where he resumed his work at a clinic, but the situation was not much better.

'Fleeing for safety'
“There was a wave of doctors fleeing for their safety. I was one of just two doctors remaining in the town, and the pressure on us increased as we tried to help large numbers of wounded.”

Medical staff in the area were still under threat, and after someone informed Hamza that his name was on a list of targets, he decided to leave, “having tried to stay to the final breath.”

High quality level of care
Hamza left Syria on New Year’s Eve 2013, to start 2014 in Iraq. He had heard of MSF and got in touch through the internet. He has worked with MSF since the opening of the project in Darashakran.

“As Syrian Kurdish doctors it is easier for us to communicate with the patients. The most important thing for us is to provide a high quality level of care from one Syrian refugee to another.”

Part 4 >>