Last updated May 4, 2016

Latest Update:

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.

Entrenched conflict

What began in 2011 in Syria as protests inspired by the Arab Spring has become an entrenched and bloody conflict that shows no sign of resolution as it approaches its 6th year.

The humanitarian and medical toll of the violence remains appalling. Millions of people have been internally displaced, or have sought refuge abroad. Millions more are trapped in communities that are under siege or hemmed in by the closed borders of neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile the level of violence inside the country shows no signs of abating. Death and injury is a daily reality. The year 2015 saw an increased number of countries engaging their military and entering the war, with four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council  now actively engaged in hostilities.

The scale of death, injury and displacement from the conflict is unimaginable. By the end of 2015 MSF-supported facilities alone had recorded 7,009 dead, 154,647 wounded; 30-40% being women and children. As MSF-supported facilities only serve a fraction of the country, the true toll is likely to be much, much higher.

An estimated four million people have fled outside the country with the vast majority fleeing to Lebanon, Turkey Jordan and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in besieged areas inside the country, with extremely limited access to healthcare.

With massive unmet needs inside Syria, MSF should be running some of the biggest operations in its history, but the scale of the violence and the fast moving nature of the conflict means that the work MSF inside Syria is limited.

Following the abduction and release of MSF staff in 2014, the extremely difficult decision was taken to close projects and stop support activities in areas controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group. MSF has sought high-level assurances from the leadership of the IS group that staff and patients will not be harmed, but these assurances have not been forthcoming which means that large swathes of the country  - and the people living there - are out of our reach.

MSF has also been unable to date to receive permission from the government of Syria to work in areas it controls, again meaning millions of people are out of reach of hands-on assistance from any external aid provider.

Despite these significant constraints, MSF continues to operate medical facilities inside Syria, as well as supporting directly more than 150 medical structures throughout the country. In neighbouring countries, throughout 2015 activities have been scaled up and additional projects have been opened, but still the needs remain enormous.

Syria 2015: Report on war wounded and war dead in MSF-supported medical facilities in Syria

More recent reports about our work in Syria

Read the most recent crisis updates (PDF - October 2015, PDF - January 2015)


2014 Activities 
From 2014 International Activity Report

With millions of people in need of assistance, MSF should be running some of the largest medical programmes in its 44-year history, but it is prevented from doing so.

Violence and insecurity, attacks on health facilities and medical workers, the absence of government authorisation and the reneging by armed groups on guarantees of safety for our teams have been some of the main obstacles to a more extensive programme of medical humanitarian aid.

The war entered its fourth year in 2014, and continued to be defined by brutal violence that does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed, and half the population is displaced either within Syria or in neighbouring countries. Entire communities are besieged and cut off from any outside assistance and people are trapped between the ever-shifting frontlines. Thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics have been killed, kidnapped, or displaced by violence, leaving a massive gap in medical expertise and experience.

On 2 January 2014, ISIS (later renamed Islamic State; IS) abducted 13 MSF staff members. Among them were eight Syrian colleagues who were released after a few hours. The remaining five international staff members were held captive for up to five months. The abduction led to the withdrawal of MSF’s international teams and the closure of health facilities in IS-held areas. MSF closed its field hospital in the mountainous region of Jabal Al-Akrad, in the west of Syria’s Idlib governorate, as well as the two health centres it was running nearby.

Read more about MSF's activities in Syria in 2014.

Year MSF first worked in the country: 2009.

2014 Key figures
Outpatient consultations 135,600
Relief kits distributed 4,900
Surgical interventions 4,400
Births assisted 1,400
No. staff in 2014 729
2014 Expenditure €16.6 million

Figures from 2014 International Activity Report
and 2014 International Financial Report

Activity Reports

Financial Reports

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