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New report highlights the devastating impact of explosive weapons on Syrians’ lives

by Handicap International UK | hi_uk | Handicap International - UK
Monday, 20 June 2016 17:16 GMT

Qusay is learning to walk again after losing both his legs in an air strike in Syria. © B. Almeras / Handicap International

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

To mark World Refugee Day, Handicap International is publishing Syria, A Mutilated Future, a new report highlighting the devastating impact of explosive weapons on Syrian refugees and internally displaced people.

Syria, A Mutilated Future is based on an analysis, conducted between June 2013 and December 2015, of the situation of 25,000 Handicap International beneficiaries, either displaced in Syria or refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Shockingly, children represent 16% of people injured as a direct result of the crisis. 53% of injuries sustained are due to explosive weapons and 15% of these victims had to undergo amputations.

This devastating human toll, with a long-term impact on its victims, is worsened by the lack of access to health services. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 50% of public hospitals and health centres in Syria are either partially functioning or closed. The absence of appropriate medical services and the unmet rehabilitation needs of injured refugees have a serious impact on victims, including life-long pain, amputation, badly healed fractures, disability or even death.

As explosive weapons have a blast or fragmentation effect, they kill or cause complex injuries.Their widespread use, combined with the absence of appropriate medical care and psychological support in Syria has a devastating impact on people’s lives. As our report proves, 89% of people injured by explosive weapons have a temporary or permanent disability

Aleema Shivji, director of Handicap International UK, explains: After more than five years of war, we’re seeing a dramatic decline in the living standards of refugees in neighbouring countries and with more than one million casualties in Syria, an entire generation is going to suffer the long-term impact of injuries and disabilities. It’s vital to keep providing these people with rehabilitation care such as physiotherapy and prosthetics as it’s the first step on the long road to recovery. Otherwise an entire generation of Syrians will be lost. That’s why Handicap International UK launched the “Every Step Counts” campaign to raise funds to help disabled and injured people affected by conflicts like the one in Syria.

The story of Malak, innocent victim of the Syria conflict

In December 2015, 5-year-old Malak was injured in an air strike whilst at home with her family. One of her legs was fractured, the other blown off. She now lives with her family in Zaatari camp where Handicap International has been providing her with physiotherapy, psychological support and the young girl is slowly learning to walk on her new prosthesis.



A Copy of the report is available here. Case studies and pictures available on request.

Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK Email: media@hi-uk.org Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737 www.handicap-international.org.uk

The Every Step Counts campaign

  • Handicap International’s Every Step Counts appeal is raising essential funds to help disabled and injured people walk again by supporting sustainable rehabilitation care in countries that need it most, like Jordan.
  • Every pound donated until 18th July will be doubled by the UK government, enabling twice as many disabled children to walk again.

Methodology for the report: The figures on injuries were collected by Handicap International and its partners through face-to-face interviews with displaced people and refugees in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, refugee camps and villages and neighbourhoods in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon (region of Beqaa) between June 2013 and December 2015. The analysis is based on a total of 68,049 beneficiaries assessed by Handicap International’s teams. Of which 25,097 are injured: 14,471 in Syria, 7,823 in Jordan and 2,803 in Lebanon.

Handicap International and the Syrian crisis: More than 600,000 people have benefited from our work since 2012. We provide rehabilitation services and psychological support, and distribute emergency aid to meet the basic needs of injured, disabled and vulnerable people. Handicap International also works on raising the awareness of local populations to prevent accidents caused by explosive weapons.

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 to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.