Syria: Hope of a ceasefire does nothing to alter the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe

News and Press Release
Originally published

Malteser International: threat to medical personnel should not be accepted as normal

Cologne: The Syrian ceasefire agreed by Russia and the USA at the weekend will do nothing to relieve the immense need of Syrians in the short term. A free and sustainable access to Syria for humanitarian organizations is just one of the many points needing to be agreed to by all of the conflict parties to allow the ceasefire to be effective. The extensive destruction of medical facilities, and general shortage of medical personnel are of particular concern for Malteser International.

“The fact that the medical staff who have remained in Syria are only able to work in constant fear for their lives is something that cannot be accepted as normal, even after five years of war,” says Janine Lietmeyer, Malteser International’s Middle East Manager. “Every time medical infrastructure is destroyed it causes a direct and indirect loss of human life. Without access to emergency medical help, and basic medical services, people do not just die of wounds, they die from illnesses that could treated without any problem in normal circumstances,” she explains. Protection for medical personnel, ambulances and hospitals is a core element of international law.

Malteser International has further expanded its aid measures displaced people arriving in the Azaz region, near to the Turkish border. The organization is at present providing further lifesaving shelters, medical care and drinking water for around 12,000 displaced people. “Our focus has to be on the civilians who do not belong to any of the groups that are fighting – who are holding on between the front lines, and in besieged cites under unimaginable conditions,” Lietmeyer said. Malteser International is also active in providing aid to sick and injured refugees and displaced people, as well as the local population, in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq with its medical centers, and mobile medical teams.

For editors: Janine Lietmeyer, Malteser International’s Country Group Manager for the Middle East is available for interviews. Contact: Tel.: +49 (0)221 9822 169, elena.stein(at)