In northwestern Syria, home to over 4.5 million individuals according to UN estimates, the statistics reveal that 4.1 million people are in need of support, with 3.7 million facing food insecurity. Additionally, the number of internally displaced persons exceeds 3 million, forced to rebuild their lives in an environment lacking economic opportunities and basic living security.
The root cause of this displacement can be traced back to the challenging and prolonged conditions prevailing for years. Wars and disruptions have swept through the region, subjecting residents to compounded challenges. This article sheds light on the difficulties faced by Syrian displaced individuals, particularly those dealing with health issues, and how they navigate their circumstances in the absence of security and amid deteriorating economic conditions.
Compounding Suffering for Cancer Patients in Northern Syria:
The number of Syrian refugees afflicted with cancer is escalating day by day, with medical sources in Idlib estimating over 3,000 cancer patients in northwestern Syria who urgently need assistance. Sixty-five percent of them are children and women, with approximately three new cases added daily. They face significant challenges in accessing treatment and medical support, with many experiencing shortages of medications and difficulties in obtaining adequate healthcare.
Following the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and northern Syria in February, sources reported over 600 cancer cases, including 150 children and 200 women. The entry of cancer patients into Turkey for treatment was halted, and despite harsh conditions, a few cases were recently allowed to cross.
Ensany's team, during their tours in northern Syria to assist displaced families, met Hajj Mohammad, one of the hundreds of cancer patients facing poverty and harsh living conditions. Describing his continuous struggles, Hajj Mohammad stated:
"I am a cancer patient who has undergone five surgeries. I need medication, food, and drinks monthly, and I have no one to help me except Allah and the kind-hearted donors." (Click to watch the video)
Hajj Mohammad's situation mirrors that of hundreds of Syrians who have lost their homes, security, and stability, forced to live in tents that offer little protection from the winter cold, rain, summer heat, and harsh conditions.
Deterioration of Humanitarian Aid Raises Humanitarian Disaster Alarm:
Human rights organizations have sounded the alarm over the worsening conditions of cancer patients in northern Syria, with a rising number of deaths due to the lack of appropriate treatment, especially given the difficulty of accessing Turkish territories. Amid the absence of hospitals, specialized centers, specialists, and chemotherapy doses, the situation has worsened, coinciding with a decline in the humanitarian response rate in northern Syria over the past years, dropping to less than half, according to coordinators of "Syria Response." The number of those in need of assistance increased, particularly after the significant earthquake that hit the region in February of last year.
Finding suitable food becomes increasingly challenging, negatively impacting their ability to face health challenges. The challenges are compounded by the difficult economic situation and its effects on individuals' ability to secure their basic needs.
Diana Semaan, Acting Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, emphasized:
"Since the Syrian government lost control of the northwestern part of the country, it has cut off electricity and water supplies, hindered aid, and attacked camps, medical facilities, and schools. This has placed the responsibility on humanitarian organizations to provide services. There is no effective solution to providing sufficient humanitarian aid in northwestern Syria except by renewing the mechanism for delivering aid across the current border, and the UN Security Council must renew this mandate before it expires on July 10th."
This context necessitates an immediate and effective response from the international community and humanitarian organizations to provide medical support and food relief to displaced individuals, especially those suffering from serious diseases like cancer, contributing to alleviating the daily hardships they face.