“Here one call saves lives:” the voice of the medical teams supported by TSF in Syria

Report
from Télécoms Sans Frontières
Published on 13 Nov 2019 View Original

While violence is again escalating on the Turkish-Syrian border and bombardments continue in the north-east and north-west of the country, TSF’s support to medical teams on the ground remains essential. “Here one call saves lives” Mr. Mohammad Hawarie, Safety and Security Assistant at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), says.

UOSSM is a coalition of several humanitarian organisations from different countries, focused on providing medical care to the victims of the Syrian war. TSF is providing them with Internet connection in 11 medical centres in the north-west of the country, and also with 5 satellite phones to facilitate the work of their mobile clinics. These devices are used daily by the medical teams to communicate with the different hospitals, in particular in the Idlib region, where telecommunications have been significantly impacted by over eight years of war. “Due to the continuous shelling the local communication infrastructure has been destructed. The communication equipment provided by TSF plays an important role in emergency response operations.” Mr. Hawarie continues.

In the first half of 2019, thanks to TSF’s connections and equipment, 194,000 beneficiaries have been treated with more than 350,000 consultations. In areas that are completely cut off, reliable communication means are essential to effectively carry out medical operations. “When we conduct our activities in emergency situations where the target area loses all means of communication, we can communicate only through these devices.” And even when local networks are partially restored, Dr. Wassel Al-Yousef, pharmacist at the PHC Center of Ariha, confirms that TSF’s assistance remains paramount: “While local internet service providers are available, their connections face regular disconnections. That makes TSF connection very important, because it is safe from being disconnected or blocked by service providers.”

Furthermore, this equipment is not only important for conducting medical operations, but also for the safety of UOSSM’s teams, as Mr. Hawarie recalls: “TSF communication devices had an active role in the process of evacuating the Jisr al-Shughour PHC center, and follow-up the movement of evacuation vehicles on public roads to ensure the safety of team and equipment.”

Over eight years of war in Syria have claimed more than 370,000 lives and created 5.6 million refugees. While the situation in the country remains very unstable, since 2012 TSF continues to closely monitor its developments to maintain the response as effective as possible for the victims of this humanitarian crisis.