29th June 2020
As conflict continues to decimate the country of Syria, Samaritan’s Purse is responding to the cries of its desperate citizens and, with local partners, is providing life-saving medical care and food rations to these victims of war. The civil strife, which began in 2011, has left 11.7 million people displaced, devastated the medical infrastructure of the country, and left the economy in shambles. One pastor recently noted, “The situation in our country is worse now than at any time since the civil war started.”
In mid-April, one of our partners opened a clinic in Al-Hassakeh, a busy city in the Kurdish region of Syria. Here we are providing adult and paediatric care for acute and chronic diseases ranging from upper respiratory infections and diarrhoea to hypertension and diabetes. In addition, the clinic offers antenatal and urgent care services, as well as radiology and malnutrition screening. It also has an isolation tent to screen individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms before they are transferred to another location for appropriate care.
Complete with a lab and a pharmacy, this facility—staffed by Syrian doctors and nurses who themselves are internally displaced people (IDPs)—is treating city residents as well as IDPs living in the community and at nearby Washokani Camp. The clinic has recently been averaging about 120 patients each day.
H2>Serving the Sick
Nabil* has lived in Al-Hassakeh for 40 years together with his family of nine. He said, “Living is so hard. Everything is expensive.”
But Nabil is thankful for the free services of the new clinic and has returned three times to receive medicine and let the staff follow up on his health condition. His hope is that the surrounding countryside can receive care from the clinic just as he has.
Another patient named Yara* and her husband have two children and find it difficult to provide the necessary food for their family. “It’s so hard to find a job here,” she said. “The clinic helped me see the doctor and take free medicines, especially for my kids.”
Amira*, a 60-year resident of Al-Hassakeh, saw a doctor at the clinic and also used the lab services provided at no cost to patients.
“The most important thing for me was the tests, because they are [normally] so expensive,” she said. “I want to thank the doctors and nurses, and ask them to stay, providing our country with these services.”
Due to severe inflation and lack of jobs in the country, food is increasingly a scarce commodity in Syria. COVID has also further complicated the situation.
Since January, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed nearly 700 tons of monthly food rations, including some ready-to-eat meals, to internally displaced people in camps and other Syrian communities through three local partners. About 3,000 families are receiving monthly rations of rice, bulgur, beans, lentils, pasta, tomato paste, sunflower oil, sugar, and salt.
Bedew*, who has been displaced since November 2019, received some of this assistance and is grateful for those who helped to provide this much-needed relief.
“I am very thankful to you,” she said. “Without your help, we don’t know how to get food to feed our families. You have brought hope to our life.”
Samaritan’s Purse has also worked through a partner to provide 3,000 tents to displaced families living in Washokani and Tel Samen camps. In addition, this partner has distributed 18,000 blankets, 18,000 sleeping mats, 1,500 hygiene kits, 3,000 cooking kits, 3,600 Sawyer water filters, and 500 tarps to these individuals in need.
Syria’s humanitarian crisis stems back to protests that erupted in 2011 against a law that allowed for arrests without charges. Protesters were also calling for an end to corruption and the establishment of political parties. After attempts to defuse the situation failed and amid eventual calls for regime change, the country splintered between various armed groups and the government of Bashar al-Assad.
In 2012, the international community responded to the growing civil conflict with economic sanctions. Tensions continued and escalated in 2015 when Russia came to the aid of Assad and recaptured large sections of the country, including the city of Aleppo. In 2018, they also seized Damascus, but the northeast part of the country remained largely under the control of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, who were supported by U.S. forces. When the U.S. military announced a pullout of this region in October 2019, Turkish and Russian forces moved to fill the power vacuum.
An estimated 400,000 people have died in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
Please pray for the ongoing crisis in the country as its citizens are suffering immensely due to the war. Ask that Samaritan’s Purse partners and Syrian churches will be able to extend the hope of Christ in the midst of this dark time.
*Names changed for security.