Photo: People who have fled shelling are living in precarious conditions without access to medical care. Syria 2012 © MSF
Wounded and Sick Trapped in War-Torn Syrian City
Tens of thousands of people, many of them wounded, are trapped by intense fighting and bombing in Deir Azzour, a city in eastern Syria. MSF called for the evacuation of the injured and sick to safety and for international medical teams be allowed to work in the war-torn city.
An MSF team unofficially visited Deir Azzour governorate in late November to evaluate needs in the isolated, war-ravaged region. It was too dangerous for the team to enter the city of Deir Azzour, home to a reported 600,000 people prior to the conflict. Local residents reported that tens of thousands of people remain trapped in the city, which is shelled and bombed daily. Those remaining are predominantly poor and elderly, unable or unwilling to leave and now extremely vulnerable. Despite support from an organization of Syrian doctors, it is virtually impossible to obtain medical supplies in Deir Azzour.
“Deir Azzour now has just one makeshift hospital with only four doctors working there,” said Patrick Wieland, an MSF coordinator who recently returned from Syria. “The doctors are completely exhausted after six months of working in a combat zone. But they refuse to leave the city and are continuing to treat the wounded around the clock.”
Evacuating patients on stretchers is particularly risky because of aerial bombings and sniper fire.
MSF teams are working in three hospitals in northern and northwestern Syria, in areas controlled by armed opposition groups. MSF provides emergency medical care, including surgery. Since late June 2012, MSF teams have treated more than 2,500 patients and carried out more than 550 surgeries. In Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, MSF has been providing medical care to Syrian refugees and its teams are prepared to address additional needs arising from the conflict in Syria