Syria: Un Ponte Per… and the EU working together to alleviate the suffering of the war-affected population

3 July 2019, 11:20

Press release

Syria: Un Ponte Per… and the EU working together to alleviate the suffering of the war-affected population

Since 2017 to date the continuous presence of Un Ponte Per… in Syria, together with the Kurdish Red Crescent, has guaranteed health assistance to more than 240.000 people. This work will continue throughout 2019 thanks to the European Union funds.


Rome, 3 July 2019  –  The war in Syria is entering its 8th year and continues to be characterized by the constant flow of internally displaced people and the great suffering of the population. There are currently 13,1 million people still in need of humanitarian assistance, 5,6 million of whom are in acute need. The deterioration of the health system remains a matter of great concern and access to medical care continues to be extremely inadequate, particularly in the regions of Hasakeh, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, in northeastern Syria. Some of the main cities and strategic areas of these regions have experienced the occupation of Daesh (Islamic State) from 2014 to 2018, while the last stronghold of the group in Syria – Baghouz, Deir ez Zor – was only recently confronted by forces led by the International Coalition, in March 2019. Since then, attacks by Daesh have intensified day by day.

For this reason the third phase of a humanitarian intervention by the Italian organization Un Ponte Per… has recently been launched in northeastern Syria, made possible by €1 million in humanitarian funding from the European Union for 2019, and thanks to the cooperation with the local partner, the Kurdish Red Crescent.

“Life-Saving Health Assistance to the population of North East Syria” – was started by Un Ponte Per… in 2017, when the emergency was the battle of Raqqa, Daesh stronghold in the country. Since then, the presence of Un Ponte Per… and the Kurdish Red Crescent has been continuous, leading to the achievement of important results: in 3 years health assistance has been guaranteed to 240.000 people.

The objective of this third phase, that will last for most of 2019, is to improve primary health care and ambulance transfer of patients services; strengthen prevention in the health sector and guarantee humanitarian protection for the most vulnerable.

In the course of 2017, during the battle of Raqqa, Un Ponte Per… set up 2 Trauma Stabilization Points for the stabilization of the wounded, which during the armed clashes allowed to assist more than 5.000 people. In the same period an Emergency Primary Care Centre was set up in the Areesha camp for internally displaced people, in the area of Deir ez-Zor, which in its first months of activity guaranteed internal medicine, paediatrics and gynaecology services, reaching over 42.800 people. At the end of the armed clashes in Raqqa, one Trauma Stabilization Point was closed and the other one was permanently converted into a fully equipped clinic to assist people who were gradually returning to their homes.

These activities were complemented by the set up of a system of 21 ambulances, previously non-existent, which allowed specialized medical teams to move in the areas of Raqqa, Tabqa, Hassakeh and Deir ez-Zor, guaranteeing medical assistance to people who would have otherwise not had access to any health service, in particular to internally displaced families and to hundreds of women and children.

During the second phase of the intervention, carried out in the course of 2018, Un Ponte Per… and the Kurdish Red Crescent continued to guarantee support to the clinics of Raqqa and Areesha, extending the intervention also to the one in Kasrah (Deir ez-Zor), where the maternity department was completely restructured, and starting a training course for the local health personnel aimed at increasing skills in the field of humanitarian protection of the most vulnerable cases identified in the clinics.

The most important results in terms of protection were achieved in the Areesha clinic: 55 cases in need of protection were identified, mostly women and minors, referred and taken in charge by specialized actors.

The development of local skills of health workers and of the capacity to respond in terms of health and protection remains one of the pillars of the Un Ponte Per… the Kurdish Red Crescent action. Between 2017 and 2018, intensive training sessions were organized for 219 members of the local staff of the two organizations, and in particular for medical and paramedical personnel on the principles of humanitarian aid, on standard protocols for emergency and primary healthcare, on psychological first aid techniques, on appropriate behaviours in mined areas. The training also focused on the protection of the most vulnerable people, to facilitate greater access to specialized services such as the management of cases of gender-based violence and of child abuse. A continuous training that will carry on also in 2019, and that will include the continuous updating of the protocols of emergency medicine, of women and children protection, the taking in charge of the most vulnerable cases, with particular attention to the rights of people with disabilities.

Through this new intervention, which represents the natural continuation of the previous ones, Un Ponte Per and the Kurdish Red Crescent will continue to provide free primary healthcare services to the population and specialized services in particular for women and minors. Will strengthen the capacities of public hospitals in carrying out emergency medicine interventions and support the current system of transport and transfer of patients in ambulance. They will also carry out prevention activities in terms of health and protection of vulnerable individuals, and will contribute to improving the ability to identify cases in need of protection by facilitating the taking in charge by specialized actors.

A commitment that is part of a broader spectrum of interventions carried out by Un Ponte Per… in northeastern Syria since 2015 included activities such as the distribution of numerous humanitarian cargos for the population, the rehabilitation of the maternity and paediatric unit of the Raqqa national hospital, the support to Women’s Houses for the protection of victims of gender-based violence, and much more.


About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid:

The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid.  Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.