Five years of war, political instability and lack of medical facilities have left many Syrian wounded people vulnerable to take a long journey from acute surgery to rehabilitation to rebuild their bodies and minds, says Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a new report launched in Jordan on December 20, 215.
MSF’s new report life after the rubble: The journey taken by war-wounded Syrians to rebuild their bodies and minds in Jordan highlights the challenges of providing treatment for wounded Syrians, records examples of the impact that day to day violence have had on many Syrian men, women and children, and describes the development, together with the Ministry of Health, of a unique programme made of an emergency surgical project in Al-Ramtha Government Hospital in the Ramtha district of northern Jordan and a post-operative care project in Zaatari camp.
A well-established, life-saving project, the project continues to be extremely relevant. The first week of January has sadly, yet again, seen a spike in the number of admissions to Ramtha facility. Renewed fighting in Dara’a governorate, as well as the targeting of medical facilities inside Syria means that sadly, the services offered by MSF staff in the project continue to be extremely pertinent.
‘’I have treated babies with brain full of shrapnel, children who have jumped onto a live landmine, and mothers and young women who have lost arms, legs, up to 10 kg of soft tissue” says an MSF surgeon. The team sees some of the most severely injured Syrians – those who survived the evacuation to the border and were granted access by the Jordanian authorities – but for every patient seen, there are hundreds of others in need of treatment inside Syria.
The international organization calls in the report on the international community to ensure continued support for a consistent medical and humanitarian response to war-wounded Syrians in Jordan, and on the Government of Jordan to continue to allow war-wounded Syrians in critical condition to enter the country. Scaling up the provision of long-term convalescent and palliative care should be one of the key priorities.
MSF emphasises the urgent need to facilitate family reunification for war-wounded children and parents who have been split between Syria and Jordan: 29% of the children undergoing medical treatment in MSF facilities are unaccompanied.
“All of a sudden, we heard the sound of a plane, and in no time, a bomb hit our house. The last thing I remember about my husband is that he was lying on the floor, he looked as if he was asleep, I could hear my children screaming “Mum…Mum”, and I could not go to them. People came to help us, they took me to the field hospital in Dara’ and I eventually arrived in Al-Ramtha hospital. Before being taken to the Operating Theatre, I told the doctors ‘’I am pregnant, please take care of us’’. Days after my admission, I learned that my husband and my little boy had passed away, and my daughter was in another hospital in Amman’’ says Noor, a 25 years old who was injured in July 2015.
In the past two years, more than 1,963 wounded have reached the Ramtha hospital’s emergency room. Some 75 % of them have suffered devastating blast injuries caused by high-explosive weapons used in Syria. Sixty-three patients, including 19 children recently treated by MSF in Jordan reported that they were victims of barrel bombs. Others reported having been injured by banned weapons such as cluster munitions and landmines scattered in fields. They are the direct victims of violence happening in Syria and of the numerous violations of international humanitarian law that characterise the continuous fighting.
Since the conflict in Syria began, over four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including Jordan. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been present in Jordan since August 2006 with a reconstructive surgery program located in Amman. Since 2013, MSF has been working to support refugees and patients through Al-Ramtha Emergency Trauma Surgical programme, a post-operative care facility in Zaatari camp, as well as a Mother and Child hospital, and two non-communicable diseases clinics in Irbid to support Syrian refugees in host communities, as well as vulnerable Jordanians.