Syria

Second surge in COVID-19 cases in Northwest Syria likely as cases doubled in a month warns World Vision

*Monday, 9 June 2021 *– International aid agency World Vision today warned that COVID-19 cases have doubled last month in Northwest Syria where only around 54,000 doses of vaccine[1] have been administered in a population of over 4 million people. While countries around the world are racing to secure COVID-19 vaccines for their own people, only 0.3% of the administered vaccines globally have gone to people in low-income countries such as Syria.[2] The NGO says that this is simply not enough, and that numerous lives are at stake if equitable access to vaccines is not provided for Syrian people in the coming months.

**“In May alone, the number of positive cases in North West Syria increased reaching 1, 558 with up to 100 new cases every day in the last week. Since COVID-19 pandemic started, confirmed COVID-19 cases have reached 23,862[3] in Northwest Syria, including 672 deaths – 7% of these inside camps for internally displaced people.[4] Syrian people, who have already been exposed to unimaginable trauma, are waiting for Western countries to show solidarity and support the COVAX Facility so low-income countries have access to vaccines. They are also waiting for the expected vaccine shipments to arrive without further delay but the second shipment is already delayed given the uncertainty of the UNSC cross border negotiations” **said Johan Mooij, World Vision Syria Response Director.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact that the slow vaccination rollout will have on already critically vulnerable populations in Northwest Syria. The renewal date for the UN Security Council Resolution 2533 is fast approaching and its outcome will play a critical role in ensuring the provision of life-sustaining aid -including medicine and vaccines. The world cannot neglect Syrian people’s urgent need for COVID-19 vaccination,” said Alexandra Matei, Advocacy and Communications Director, World Vision Syria Response.

“The pledged COVID-19 vaccines supply to Northwest Syria would only cover a maximum of 20 per cent of the population, and no vaccines are allocated to date to cover Northeast Syria areas where cases are increasing daily. This must change - world leaders must remember that no one is safe until we are all safe, in the global battle against this pandemic. Vaccines are essential to curbing the spread of the pandemic,” warns Mahmoud Homsi, Health Technical Advisor at World Vision Syria Response.

With more than 2.7 million internally displaced people living in crowded camps and relying on an already strained healthcare system, World Vision says that vaccination rollout in Syria must be prioritized by the international community in order to avert a catastrophe especially as indiscriminate attacks continue to endanger children’s lives. **“Today morning, another attack took place in Northwest Syria targeting a tent where World Vision conducts non-formal education activities to 55 girls and boys. The deadly combination of the COVID-19 virus and the ongoing insecurity, means children ****are bearing the cost of this conflict. Fortunately, this happened before school started, but there are no guarantees this will not happen again”, **adds Mooij.

World Vision calls on all sides to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law, and stop targeting educational facilities and civilian infrastructure as well as ensure the safety and protection of children.

ENDS

Note to editors

  • We have spokespeople inside Syria and the region.
  • World Vision is working through partners to mitigate the risks of the pandemic on the vulnerable population of NWS. This includes supporting COVID-19 treatment facilities, training community health volunteers for the upcoming vaccination campaigns, distribution of hygiene kits, building the infection prevention and control capacity and support the epidemiological surveillance system.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Alexandra Matei, Syria Response Advocacy and Communications Director, World Vision International

+962 778482436 | alexandra_matei@wvi.org

Elias Abu Ata, Syria Response Communications Manager, World Vision International

+962 775 446 556 | elias_abuata@wvi.org

[1] https://www.unicef.org/mena/press-releases/syria-receives-its-first-delivery-covid-19-vaccines-through-covax-facility

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-55795297

[3] https://www.acu-sy.org/en/epi-reports/

[4] Northwest Syria Health Cluster dashboard, accessed 8 June 2021.