Syria Arab Republic: Health Cluster Bulletin, February 2018

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  • High level advocacy continues on the worsening humanitarian situation and on eastern Ghouta and Idlib, with a focus on escalation and attacks on health facilities, urgent access for medicine and medical supplies to HTR and besieged areas and sustainable and regular medical evacuations.

  • The latest UN Security Resolution 2401 (2018) on 30-day cessation of hostilities in Syria is to enable humanitarian aid delivery.

  • In 2018 only one IA convoy so far (14 February) to 7,200 people of the besieged Nashabieh in eastern Ghouta.

  • According to WHO/health sector, an estimated minimum of 1065 people require urgent medical evacuations from the besieged East Ghouta. A prioritized list of 84 patients was shared with Damascus to follow up with authorities to approve medical evacuation.

Situation Overview

  • The security situation in the country remains volatile and unpredictable. Hot spots: East Ghouta, Idlib, Aleppo, Afrin and Deir Ez-Zor. Developments in these areas had a direct impact on the general security situation countrywide as well as the UN operations. Escalation continues across the country with direct impact on health in Syria where already over half of Syria’s 111 public hospitals and half of its 1806 public care centers are now either closed or only partially functioning.
  • The UN is deeply alarmed by the escalated military operations in eastern Ghouta, with airstrikes reportedly killing dozens of civilians and impacting nearly 400,000 men, women and children in the besieged enclave.
  • The UN is deeply concerned over the safety and protection of the 2 million people in Idleb governorate, where ongoing fighting and airstrikes have resulted in death and injury, and destruction of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. Between 15 December and 3 February, 325,443 displacements have occurred due to the ongoing fighting and airstrikes in the area, with people moving to the central, western and northern parts of Idleb Governorate.
  • In Afrin, the ongoing military operations, the reported blockage of exits, have virtually trapped many civilians preventing them from accessing safer areas. There are 324,000 men, women and children, including 126,000 displaced people living in the district.
  • In Al-Hassakeh, an agreement was reached to allow some UN partners to resume their work, after a month in which most humanitarian assistance came to a complete halt. The agreement is only for a period of two months and covers a limited number of partners. It is critical that in the long run all humanitarian partners can continue providing much needed assistance to affected people in camps and towns without restriction.
  • In Ar-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zoir, the infestation of UXO (unexploded ordinance), IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and ERW (Explosive Remnants of War) is provoking civilian casualties, mainly in Ar-Raqqa and Deir EzZoir. Access for humanitarian workers to the city is almost impossible due to unsafe conditions.
  • There is a significant increase in level of Indirect Artillery Fire (IAF) and aerial campaigns in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Dara’a reflecting the escalation of hostilities on the ground.
  • In the south, civilians in Al-Rukban camp remain inaccessible to the humanitarian team in Syria. The last time the camp was supplied with food and non-food items was from across the border in early January. Regular and sustained access to the camp population is critical to meet urgent needs that cannot be addressed with sporadic deliveries.
  • In ISIL-held areas, in Yarmouk Camp and other locations in Syria, civilians continue to be held captive, subjected to violence and coercion.