A Syrian Doctor’s Plea: ‘Let Us Work’

Medical team in Aleppo perseveres despite 4 aerial attacks on hospital in past year

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A market street in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. / Courtesy of Syria Relief & Development

Syrian doctors and medical teams have some of the most dangerous jobs on earth.

Since the start of the Syrian conflict, at least 679 health professionals have been killed and 227 medical facilities have been attacked; this past year was the worst yet for attacks on Syrian medical facilities.

Over the past five years, Aleppo — the largest city in Syria — has witnessed unending pain. It has been on the frontlines of the latest wave of fighting in the country, creating even more suffering.

One of our colleagues pleaded:

“At a time when we are all losing hope, my only plea now is for the onslaught on Aleppo to stop. Let us doctors work without fear that our patients and colleagues will be targeted from above.”

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Aleppo Hospital staff perform orthopedic surgery on a 37-year-old patient who sustained a trauma injury. / Courtesy of Syria Relief & Development

Despite the hardships, Syrian medical workers continue to provide life-saving assistance every day.

Many NGOs — like our organization, Syria Relief & Development — brave barrel bombs and other daily dangers to ensure assistance reaches the people who need it most.

Last year, our Aleppo hospital endured four aerial attacks, including one that killed a logistics officer and completely destroyed a central medical supply warehouse. After each attack, however, our staff rebuilt and restored medical services as quickly as possible.

Their resilience is the foundation of our work.

What keeps these brave humanitarians going? The fact that they know suffering Syrians have no one else to turn to.

Every day, Syrian medics and aid workers are driven by the desperate need they witness daily.

One of our young female patients who has been on dialysis for nine months in our clinic recently told us:

“I thank God that the hospital has kept running and is providing us with good service.”

Aleppo’s humanitarians constantly adapt to new challenges.

As electricity and water sources have become scarce throughout the region, our workers have turned to solar power, electric generators and underground pumps as alternatives.

They have successfully rehabilitated hospitals and health clinics underground to mitigate the impact of airstrikes. They stock warehouses with backup fuel and pharmaceuticals to keep hospitals running and bolster preparations to keep operating in the event of a siege.

International aid, particularly from the American people — the largest donor to the crisis in Syria — remains the most vital source of support for Syrians in Aleppo. Syrians yearn for, recognize and appreciate the U.S. Government’s humanitarian assistance.

This assistance allows locally-driven NGOs like ours to sustain life-saving operations in hard-to-reach parts of Syria, like Aleppo.

Despite the daily hardships, we will continue to serve Syrians who need our help the most. In doing so, we honor the resilience of the people of Aleppo and their dreams of waking up to a better tomorrow.

Learn more about USAID’s response to the Syrian crisis.

About the Author

Staff members from the nonprofit organization Syria Relief & Development contributed to this blog. Follow the organization @syriarandd.

U.S. Agency for International Development

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