War in syria: “the health system is collapsing”.

"Doctors Without Borders" reports on the catastrophic situation around Aleppo. Medical facilities would be targeted.

Refugees from Aleppo reach the Syrian-Turkish border. Photo: ap

While negotiations on Syria are taking place in Munich and the Assad regime is trying to cut off rebel supply routes to Aleppo with Russian air support, the humanitarian situation there is becoming increasingly catastrophic. "We were supporting medical facilities in Aleppo, and it has become more difficult to provide supplies because key roads are disrupted. But we have already gotten a lot of material there in advance," says Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders on the situation in Aleppo. "We are hearing horror reports from the city with ongoing bombardment, a shortage of food, water and fuel."

He said the situation was particularly difficult for people who fled the latest offensive in recent days and were stranded on the Turkish border still inside Syria. "The latest new wave of refugees involves 30,000 people. Many have no place to stay. We’ve put tents for 800 families, but that’s just a drop in the bucket," Taylor said.

Everyone is trying to find shelter somewhere. "Before the latest offensive, there were already four to five camps inside Syria near the Turkish border. Many more people have fled there now, but the camps are already full. Some have set up shop outside the camps. Others have taken shelter in villages in the surrounding area. But there are also already people sleeping outside in the open."

One problem, he said, is health care. "There is enough food that is still being delivered by aid organizations to the Asas region. But the health system there is currently collapsing completely. If the fighting continues, the situation will become terrible," warns the spokesman for Doctors Without Borders. He is helping on the Turkish side to coordinate the medical projects still supported by the organization. Not only around Aleppo at least 40 different medical facilities have been destroyed, he said. Throughout the country, they are repeatedly targeted, he said.

Medical staff forced to flee

"There have been different attacks on facilities we support with different levels of damage. In one of the latest attacks on one of the facilities in southern Syria, three people were killed and ambulances were destroyed. Our impression is that medical facilities are consistently being attacked," Taylor believes. As a result, medical personnel are also forced to flee and medical facilities have to be closed.

Medecins Sans Frontières therefore demands "that all warring parties ensure that there are no new massive displacements and a further worsening of the humanitarian situation. Attacks on medical facilities must be stopped. Fighting and airstrikes in densely populated areas must stop." But this appeal is finding little hearing.

"There are already people who have to sleep outside in the open".

Meanwhile, the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) has now published in a report far higher estimates of casualties from the Syrian war than the figures previously cited by the UN. It says 470,000 people have died so far as a result of direct and indirect consequences of the war. The UN still operates with the figure of 250,000 casualties, but admits to not keeping statistics on this for 18 months.

According to the SCPR, 400,000 Syrians are believed to have died as a direct result of the war. Another 70,000 are victims of a collapsed health care system, a lack of medicines (especially for chronic diseases), food, clean water and inadequate housing. This is especially true for internally displaced persons in the country, who now make up 45 percent of the population, according to the report. According to SCPR, 11.5 percent of Syria’s population has been killed or injured in the conflict so far. The report counts 1.9 million injured.