Emergency Response: Syria and the Sahel

New Statesman (1996), May 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

Emergency Response: Syria and the Sahel


Syria

Help for Syrians fleeing conflict

'We're working in the border regions of Lebanon, providing medical services to 13,000 Syrians who have crossed the border to flee the conflict. There's a constant stream of people, mainly from Homs and other areas nearby.

It's quite mountainous where we are and there's a lot of snow - last week the roads were impassable and we were cut off. It's very cold here at the moment so we're dealing with a lot of flu and respiratory infections.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

We've also begun to treat people with chronic illnesses who require ongoing medication. They've fled their homes and, for many of them, getting hold of medicines for their condition is both expensive and difficult.

These people have fled from violent and traumatic situations and some have witnessed terrible things. They've been separated from friends and family, and some have seen their friends and family members killed. We're seeing the sort of symptoms you'd expect to see when people have gone through experiences like this: insomnia, traumatic memories, children who are bedwetting. We've been able to set up some mental health projects and have a number of local psychologists working with us.

The people need what anybody around the world needs: shelter, food, medicines and care and assistance for their children. At the moment they're in limbo, not knowing whether they'll be able to return to their homes.

We're working closely with Lebanese medical staff and we've built up stocks of supplies. From what we've seen, I think our work is only going to increase.

Dr Philippa Bonne, MSF emergency medical coordinator, Lebanon.

The Sahel region

Saving severely malnourished children

The Sahel region of Africa is facing severe food shortages, with three million children under five at risk of malnutrition. …

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