Syria: “Perhaps we should live underground to survive”

In the midst of intensifying conflict and mass casualty influxes in the east Ghouta area near Damascus, MSF received a few words from a general practitioner* working in a makeshift clinic in the area on Friday 25 November:

In the past three weeks we’ve experienced new waves of strikes coming from the sky and the ground. These strikes have been hitting residential areas, particularly schools. There are still functioning medical centres but we are barely coping with this new wave of violence. Medical networks have been hit as usual – something we’ve gotten used to – but schools are now being hit, too, and that has made this period very difficult.

Our medical centre is pivotal in the area. Most of our services are still functioning and available for patients. We have general or specialised surgery, an X-ray department, a lab, ambulances, and staff still coming to work. So, when there are strikes, a lot of the patients come to us. Most of the injuries we have seen lately have required complicated surgeries, which means, unfortunately, amputations. In addition to that, we have many injuries to the nerves and a specialised doctor is brought in for emergency cases and works on this.

Most of the injured we’ve been getting these past weeks are children. From the strikes, we’ve seen many dead, whole families wiped out. There was a recent case where an entire family, except for the father, was wiped out. In another family, the man is a medic, he survived an airstrike, but his wife and his mother-in-law are still in intensive care and his daughter has died. Right now, as I talk to you, I’m told of more dead and injured on the way – they say one of them is a girl who died immediately.

Yesterday, after an airstrike, another child was brought in who was already dead. Three men working on an electrical post were also brought in and needed intensive surgeries, and a woman who was walking home from work was wounded and brought in.

Nowadays, on an average or slow day, we’re doing at least five or six desperately needed lifesaving surgeries.

I think if this situation continues, the best solution is perhaps that we – the entire community – should move and live underground to survive.

*Anonymity requested for reasons of personal safety.