Syria: MSF activities inside the country

Updated: 23 May 2013

Within Syria, MSF is scaling up its operations as fast as is safely possible, but activities are still limited to five pockets of the country where MSF teams have the space and relative safety to provide high quality medical services. While MSF continues to negotiate for access through Damascus, for now it is only possible for MSF to work in opposition-controlled areas.

Near Aleppo

An MSF hospital has provided so far almost 15,000 consultations and 446 surgical operations. The teams have also attended 601 delivery cases. In a transit camp at the border with Turkey, MSF distributed non-food items (mats, hygiene kits, cooking kits…) for the families temporarily living there, vaccinated 3,300 children against measles and carried out water and sanitation activities. Medical supplies were provided to eight health centres in the Aleppo governorate. Another MSF team set up a blood bank (now handed over to Syrian doctors) to supply hospitals in Aleppo area, and supported EPI activity in a health centre for children as the war had brought normal vaccination activities to a halt.

Idlib governorate

MSF has two hospitals in Idlib governorate. “We’re on permanent stand-by for mass casualty influxes but on a day-to-day basis this is not our core activity,” says Alex Buchmann, recently returned project coordinator of one of the hospitals. “Any medical services that are still somehow operational in this area are focused on war wounded, so for people with difficult pregnancies, chronic diseases, fevers or general illnesses, the only options are our hospital and mobile clinics. Sometimes there are wounded, but all the time there are other illnesses that need treatment.”

The other MSF hospital in this area has a highly specialised trauma and surgical department that has performed more than 1,324 surgical operations so far, mainly for violence related injuries and more than 3,699 patients have received emergency care, including many patients with extensive burns sustained from accidents with home heaters or when using home-made crude oil refining kits. Physiotherapy care is also provided to patients after surgery, in the hospital or in a post-operative unit. MSF is increasing its support to Syrian medical facilities in Idlib area where 4 field hospitals and 19 advanced medical posts are now provided with drugs and medical material.

To improve the water and sanitation situation in an camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), MSF has built 50 latrines and 40 showers and distributed as well 350 tents to displaced people. A vaccination campaign was organised for children under five during which 3,300 were immunised against polio and 2,000 against measles.

Al Raqqah governorate

In Al Raqqah governorate, fighting and bombing in and around Al Raqqah town has led to repeated displacements of the population in the area. Public buildings and many households are full of IDPs and water and sanitation systems are overwhelmed. MSF has already seen some 400 measles cases, a clear sign of the collapse of the healthcare system. On April 15, the MSF team opened a basic healthcare clinic in Tal Abyad district. MSF has also started antenatal care and soon will offer maternity services.

In March, MSF opened a clinic in Al Hasakah governorate, a rich oil-producing and grain-growing province of Syria, home to Kurdish population. MSF is treating trauma cases and providing post-op care. MSF also supports an OT in the area and conducts regular trainings.

Most of the MSF teams are also engaged in mobile clinic activities and some of the projects have introduced a mental health service, which is critically needed after two years of intense conflict. MSF also has an extensive activity of supplying medical and emergency relief supplies to hospitals and clinics on both sides of the conflict in Syria, including Aleppo, Al Raqqah, Damascus, Deir Ezzor, Deraa, Hama, Homs and other areas.

Activities inside Syria in numbers (to end April 2013):

  • Surgical procedures – 2,095
  • Consultations – 34,400
  • Deliveries – 749