Today I am embarking on my first mission as a medical doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières. I am both ardent and excited! Now that I have finally filled my backpack to bursting capacity and am ready to go, I would like to tell you a little bit about what I will be doing.
My mission is based in Tripoli, a city in Northern Lebanon. Tripoli lies 31km from the border with Syria (which lies to the north and the east of Lebanon), and it has has now become host to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are fleeing their own country due to the ongoing devastation and turmoil there. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have arrived in Lebanon thus far.
Registration should not be a condition for receiving assistance in any emergency crisis. Yet access to humanitarian aid is seriously hampered by the difficulties many refugees encounter in registering on arrival in Lebanon. The roll out of aid must be accelerated and expanded.
The situation is extremely bad. We have no sewage system and had to dig holes in the ground. When it rains the water flows into the tents so the kids get sick. It’s also very cold and most families don’t have heaters, so we have to burn all sorts of materials. The kids are sick. Ourmost important concern here right now is medical care. We need doctors.
Then, injured people started coming from everywhere. We had to come up with other ways of accommodating people, even if it meant putting beds on the terrace. Sometimes the wounded didn’t arrive during the day because of fighting, because the roads were blocked, or because traveling to the hospital was risky. Sometimes they came at night or at dawn.
Some came from far away, having traveled up to 150 kilometers [about 93 miles] to reach us. A good number arrived long after the initial injury had occurred rather than in the acute or semi-acute phase, [with] some arriving simply too late to be saved. Among them were patients who had not been able to have any post-operative care after their surgery, patients who received inadequate care and others who hadn’t received any medical care at all.