A’ZAZ, Syria (February 16, 2016) – A hospital specializing in maternal, newborn and children’s health in A’zaz was one of the structures impacted by a series of bombings in northern Syria yesterday. The bombing forced hospital services to be suspended as it shattered windows and damaged the structure of the facility, which is run by a local Syrian aid organization with World Vision’s support.
“We heard the sound of a fighter so we ran into the hospital’s shelter. After the attack we couldn’t go up because we could still hear the sound of planes, when we went out we were told it was a missile. The sound of the plane was really loud and scary and the destruction was huge,” shared a World Vision midwife working in the hospital at the time of the attack.
Reports indicate that although no patients were harmed, multiple people in the vicinity were killed and injured in the attack. It highlights the blatant disregard for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. The bombing comes days after world leaders announced a potential ‘cessation of hostilities’ to begin on Friday.
“Recently there has been an alarming increase in attacks on hospitals, schools and other civilian areas in northern Syria. World Vision staff on the ground inside Syria report an increasingly restricted humanitarian space which means greater difficulty in reaching children and families with the assistance they so desperately need. The international community must step up and use all diplomatic influence at its disposal to ensure these attacks stop and children and families can access lifesaving assistance,” said Fran Charles, Advocacy Director for World Vision’s Syria Response.
Approximately 3,500 women and children per month accessed health services at the hospital which World Vision supported by training staff, and providing medicine, equipment and supplies. With the current operations suspended for security reasons, hospital staff hope to move operations closer to areas where newly-displaced women and children are in need of assistance. World Vision’s Women and Young Child Space operations were also suspended due to recent attacks in the area.
At the same time as services are being cut off by violence, the need continues to grow in northern Syria.
World Vision staff and partners are seeing a startling increase in the number of people recently displaced in northern Syria near the Turkey border. Just within the past 15 days, more than 62,000 people have been displaced in the Aleppo region.
Aid systems in border camps and towns, that are already hosting tens of thousands of people, are overwhelmed and the current capacity of the camps have been exhausted. World Vision’s supply warehouse has even become a last-resort shelter for the displaced so they do not have to sleep in the elements.
In the town of A’zaz and the camps along the Turkey-Syria border, World Vision health teams are seeing an increase in diarrhea and flu-like symptoms among children. There are reports from our staff of women giving birth right on the streets without any qualified medical assistance.
Families that World Vision staff spoke with recently all cite the increase in attacks as the reason for fleeing to the north.
“The recently displaced families have been living on the front lines of this conflict for several years now,” said Angela Huddleston, Program Manager for World Vision’s Syria Response. “For most of these families, shifting lines of conflict mean that it is the second or third time they’ve had to pack up and literally run for their lives. So this time around, they have little left in the way of supplies or belongings.”
World Vision is helping in A’zaz and the camps along the Syria-Turkey border by trucking in water, constructing latrines, and providing supplies for winter – which include blankets and warm clothing — plus baby kits for families, which contain diapers, diaper rash cream, wipes and other essentials.
An estimated 4.5 million people across Syria are located in areas classified as “hard to reach” by the United Nations– half of those are children. This number may grow if additional areas like A’zaz are cut off by conflict.
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- Hospital, which served 3,500 women and children a month, was forced to suspend services due to bombing, security concerns
- Attack comes as northern Syria is seeing huge jump in number of people displaced, seeking aid
- Staff report increased illness among children, women forced to give birth in the streets without medical assistance