Last updated 4 May 2016
On 27 April 2016 airstikes on the MSF-supported Al Quds hospital and surrounding neighbourhood in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo killed at least 55 people, including patients and at least six medical staff.
According to hospital staff on the ground, the hospital was destroyed by at least one airstrike which directly hit the building, reducing it to rubble. Other airstrikes in the neighbourhood also hit areas close to the hospital.
Activities 2015 International Activity Report
The Syrian conflict that began in 2011 has created the biggest displacement crisis since the Second World War, and millions of people are in desperate need of lifesaving humanitarian aid.
Some 4.3 million people have fled the country and an estimated 6.6 million have been internally displaced as government troops, opposition forces and insurgent groups battle for power and control of territory. The complex war has been characterised by extreme violence: civilian areas have been routinely bombed – often in ‘double-tap‘ attacks in which the initial strike is followed by a second on rescue teams or on the healthcare facility receiving the wounded; and there have been attacks resulting in symptoms of exposure to chemical agents. At least 1.5 million people are still trapped in besieged areas without access to humanitarian aid, healthcare or medical evacuation.
The Syrian government continues to deny repeated requests by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to access government-controlled areas. In a country where we should be running some of our largest medical programmes, the opportunities to reach people and to respond in a timely manner to the enormous needs remains extremely limited. This is a forceful reminder of how access to medical care is by and large not respected and is in many cases directly targeted by those involved in the conflict and used for political purposes.
Following the Islamic State (IS) group’s abduction and release of MSF staff in 2014, and the impossibility of obtaining the necessary guarantees from IS leadership that MSF patients and staff will not be taken or harmed, the difficult decision was taken to withdraw from IS-controlled areas. MSF’s activities have consequently been limited to regions controlled by opposition forces, or restricted to cross‐frontline and cross‐border support to medical networks.
In 2015, MSF continued to operate six medical facilities in different locations across northern Syria and saw an increase in the number of people with medical complications caused by delayed medical care, and in infections and deaths due to shortages of antibiotics.
MSF also increased its support programme to around 70 healthcare facilities run by Syrian doctors, with a particular focus on besieged areas. MSF provides technical advice, medical supplies, salaries and fuel, and helps rebuild damaged buildings. MSF also provides ad hoc support to around 80 other medical facilities, such as medical donations for use in emergency situations, for example massive influxes of casualties. No MSF staff are present in these supported facilities.
During 2015, 23 MSF-supported Syrian health staff were killed and 58 wounded. Furthermore, 63 MSF-supported hospitals and clinics were bombed or shelled on 94 separate occasions in 2015; 12 of these facilities were completely destroyed.
Year MSF first worked in the country: 2009.
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