Open Letter to WHO Regional Directors for Eastern Mediterranean and Europe

The American Relief Coalition for Syria and 37 other leading Syrian medical and humanitarian organizations wrote to the World Health Organization Regional Offices this week to plead for their help.

Our organizations work on the front line in northern Syria. Our doctors, nurses, aid workers, rescue workers, and volunteers work around the clock to care for the 2.8 million people in northwest Syria and 1.8 million in northeast Syria who are in need of urgent healthcare.They live and work alongside the most vulnerable, including the elderly and people living with disabilities, many of whom were forced from their homes multiple times in the past two years and are living in camps and overcrowded towns and villages, now highly susceptible to COVID-19 pandemic. 

Millions at risk cannot stay at home or quarantine themselves, as bombings and airstrikes forced them to flee or destroyed their houses. They are unable to regularly wash their hands because clean water is scarce, and they cannot distance themselves from others when as many as four families are forced to share a single tent.

Systematic attacks on hospitals and health centers and the loss of medical staff has hit the healthcare system in Syria hard and many health facilities are either bombed out or empty. Our organizations only have around half of the beds we need for a normal workload. For the pandemic that is about to spread through camps, cities, and detention centers in Syria, we are gravely ill-equipped. 

Across the whole of the country, the health system is dysfunctional. We are gravely concerned about the Government of Syria response to COVID-19 and its lack of transparency in reporting cases.

Syrian health workers are the backbone of the response and need funding, technical support, detection kits, protective equipment, ventilators and quarantine centers in order to save lives. 

Our organizations will continue to sacrifice everything day and night to ensure that proper healthcare is provided to Syrian civilians, but without urgent support, Syria will become the next hotspot of the pandemic and hundreds of thousands of lives will be lost.

Photo provided by SAMS, a Member of ARCS | Location: Atmeh IDP Camps , NW Syria, Date taken: 28/12/2018, Photographer: Abdul-Razak ZAKZOUK, Copyright: © Syrian American Medical Society

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