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To mark the third anniversary of the conflict in Syria, Handicap International has condemned the obstacles to humanitarian assistance inside Syria, which are having a dramatic impact on the population and are likely to weigh heavily on the country in the future. Many of those injured, disabled or traumatised by the fighting will require care and assistance for life.
On 22nd February 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that all parties to the conflict allow humanitarian access to Syrian civilians. It now remains for this important resolution to be translated into action on the ground. Inside Syria, the violent and unrelenting nature of the conflict is making it extremely difficult for humanitarian organisations to conduct their operations.
According to the United Nations, there are 9.3 million people in need inside Syria. An estimated 570,000 people have been injured. The collapse of Syria’s healthcare system has significantly increased the vulnerability of people with injuries and disabilities and older people, who are finding it increasingly difficult to access medical services and treatments.
In January 2014, Handicap International published a survey of displaced people in Syria who had been injured in the conflict. 60% of the injured people interviewed were victims of explosive ordnance and had suffered serious physical harm. 25% were amputees. A total of 88.5% of people interviewed said they did not have satisfactory access to rehabilitation care. This situation will have a serious and lasting impact on people with injuries, who risk developing permanent disabilities.
A forthcoming survey, produced jointly with HelpAge International, indicates that 5.7% of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have serious injuries - a total of 85,000 people. As a result of the seriousness of their injuries and a lack of medical care, three out of four injuries will give rise to permanent disabilities.
The physical, psychological and economic consequences of the conflict in Syria, and in neighbouring countries which have taken in Syrian refugees, are worsening by the day, according to Handicap International.
“Restrictions on access to humanitarian assistance are a violation of international humanitarian law and are having a serious impact on people with injuries and vulnerable individuals,” says Florence Daunis, Handicap International’s Deputy Executive Director in charge of operations. “They will also have serious consequences for the country in the future, and a generation of people will need medical and social services for life, as a result of this conflict. A lot of money will have to be spent on rebuilding the health and social welfare systems.”
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Handicap International’s response to the Syrian crisis
Since the start of the crisis and the launch of Handicap International’s operations more than 180,000 people have benefited from the organisation’s assistance, which is provided by a team of nearly 450 people. In Syria, the organisation meets the post-operative needs of the injured in several health centres. It also identifies people with injuries and disabilities in camps and communities, provides them with follow-up rehabilitation care, and hands out food baskets and hygiene kits. In Lebanon and Jordan, Handicap International’s response focuses on identifying and supporting the most vulnerable people and providing physical rehabilitation services to people with injuries and disabilities. It also supplies essential non-food items to new arrivals living in conditions of extreme hardship, along with financial assistance to families in distress, and psychosocial support.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people in over 60 countries worldwide.