“An exodus. A mass of women… most of whom were travelling with at least 3 children. The scene was reminiscent of another continent, renowned for its skin and bone children. They told us about their terrible journey to get here, how they suffered hunger, cold and fear of ceaseless bombing”.
Maria P., UPP Medical Advisor in Syria
The Al Hol camp in northeast Syria is once again of the brink of a humanitarian crisis. In just 4 months between December 2018 and March 2019, 64,000 people arrived here in search of shelter. The camp’s inhabitants previously numbered only 9,000.
This sudden increase triggered a crisis situation - both medical and humanitarian. The situation was dramatic and it was the living conditions of the camp itself - inadequate drinking water and sanitation services - that caused most of the health problems that needed treatment. Tragically we saw that even the humanitarian mobilisation of the whole international community was just not enough to respond to the Syrian crisis.
Boys and girls were risk dying from treatable diseases. Healthcare for the chronically ill is very limited and women faced pregnancy and childbirth in terrible conditions. Diarrhoea, malnutrition and tuberculosis were widespread among the new arrivals.
THE EXODUS IN NUMBERS
Over 4 months, at Al Hol camp:
- 64,000 people arrived
- 60,000 of these were women and children
- 30,000 were children under the age of 12
- 2 deaths a day, on average
- 25 registered cases of tuberculosis
- 565 seriously malnourished children, with 21 deaths
WHAT WE ARE DOING
In response to this crisis, we are working with Kurdish Red Crescent (KRC) doctors and healthcare professionals 24 hours a day in the 2 general healthcare centres we co-founded. We have been active in this camp since 2017, the only Italian NGO and one of very few international NGOs working here. As well as the clinics we also manage an Emergency Room and its ambulance system.
But it is our professional training courses that really make a difference in terms of project sustainability, even after the crisis situation has passed. We have launched a broad training programme for more than 200 Kurdish Red Crescent healthworkers throughout Northeast Syria.
In the Al Hol camp, we are concentrating our resources and efforts on training Community Health Worker Teams - people who live in the camp who can act as the first point of contact for available healthcare services.
- They carry out ‘door-to-door’ information campaigns, like a recent effort to prevent the spread of cholera
- They can also provide early diagnosis and lifesaving treatment for cases of pneumonia and diarrhoea, which can be fatal for children under the age of 5.
We are working for Syria’s future and with our local partner, the Kurdish Red Crescent, we strive to rebuild and stabilise a free, public healthcare system.
Donate to our project to help us make a difference for Syrians who have the right to free healthcare and a protection system on which to base their future.