MSF assisting Syrian refugees,
renews request to enter Syria
As the crisis in Syria intensifies daily, the humanitarian needs – both
in Syria and in surrounding countries – are increasing significantly.
Many people have been killed and wounded and tens of thousands have fled
their homes, leaving behind everything they own. Medical and
humanitarian assistance within Syria is
limited, and aid from international organisations
– including Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) – has been severely
restricted. In neighbouring countries such
as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, MSF has
strengthened its response to the refugees
who are flowing across the Syrian borders.
“In Lebanon, the Syrian refugees we are
assisting are not in a position financially
to afford medical treatment,” says Fabio Forgione, MSF’s head of mission in
Lebanon. “Although aid was quickly
deployed at the start of the crisis, and
many organisations are still present, it
needs to be maintained. Free access to
healthcare and humanitarian assistance
must be reinforced for Syrian refugees."
On 20 and 21 July, there was a new surge
as thousands of Syrians entered Lebanon. MSF teams were dispatched to the areas
along the border and to the Bekaa valley,
where many refugees are settling.
A survey into the living conditions and health of Syrian refugees, carried out
by MSF in June 2012, indicate that many are
living in overcrowded conditions, fearful
for their safety, suffering psychological
distress and unable to afford medical care.
Some 889 families were interviewed in
Tripoli and Wadi Khaled, in north
Lebanon, and in the Bekaa valley, in east
Lebanon. Most were from Syria’s Homs
governorate and fled Syria because of
insecurity and a lack of access to medical
care. Nearly half of those interviewed had
lost at least one family member in the
past six months to the violence in Homs.
Most arrived in Lebanon with very little,
having left behind their extended families,
houses, assets and businesses.
Living conditions for many refugees in
Lebanon are tough. MSF estimates that
more than a thousand people are living in
overcrowded shelters in Wadi Khaled and
the Bekaa valley. With the Syrian border
just a few kilometres away, many continue
to fear for their safety. In the city of Tripoli,
meanwhile, rents are high and many families
are sharing crowded apartments.
The vast majority of refugees have
experienced traumatic events, and many
are suffering psychological distress. MSF
psychologists and psychiatrists carried out
almost 800 consultations from April to
June. Some patients described being tortured in Syria. Due to
current internal political
instability and the security
situation, a significant
number of refugees do not
consider Lebanon to be a
safe place of refuge.
Meanwhile, the 5,800
general healthcare consultations
conducted in MSF
clinics from April to June
highlight the fact that
many Syrian refugees are
unable to get treatment for
chronic diseases – such as diabetes,
asthma, hypertension and cardiovascular
diseases – either because it is too expensive,
or because it is not available.
Twenty-five percent of patients were
suffering from a chronic disease requiring
treatment, yet 19% of patients were not
receiving the treatment they need.
Four out of ten people interviewed said
they were unable to access a hospital in
Lebanon, either due to prohibitive costs
or due to insecurity.
MSF reiterates its call for authorisation
to work in Syria. The organisation stands
ready to mobilise its medical and surgical
teams, and is determined to operate independently,
providing care to anyone
requiring it. MSF continues to support a
network of Syrian doctors and field hospitals
in Homs, Derah, Hama, Damascus
and Idlib delivering supplies and medicines
from neighbouring countries.
Emergency medical aid
In Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, all of which share borders with
Syria, MSF has been providing medical care mainly to
Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi refugees. MSF teams in these
countries are prepared to deal with needs arising from the
conflict in Syria. In Lebanon, MSF has pre-positioned emergency
medical stocks and relief items for
10,000 people in case a possible decline of the situation in
Syria triggers a massive influx of refugees.
Frontières is an international medical humanitarian organisation
that delivers aid to people affected by armed conflict,
epidemics, natural disasters or exclusion from health care in
more than 60 countries around the world. Visit:
of upload: 26th Sep 2012