International aid cuts create health crisis in northwestern Syria
Many hospitals have been forced to shut down due to shortages in essential medicines
By News Desk - May 05 2022

(Photo credit: Amnesty International)

According to a report from Amnesty International released on 5 May, the drop in international aid to northwestern Syria has created a severe health crisis, with medical facilities struggling to cope with a scarcity of resources.

“This past year’s massive funding drop has immediately translated into the closure of hospitals and vital services, and has left millions of Syrians – who have already suffered conflict and violence – struggling to access medication and other essential health care,” said Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, Lynn Maalouf.

“International donors meeting in Brussels next week should prioritize ensuring adequate funding for health and other essential services as millions of people face the appalling prospect of being denied access to health care amid a worsening crisis,” Maalouf added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revealed that, since December of last year, only 25 percent of the funding needed to maintain Syria’s health sector has been secure, as opposed to the 67 percent in July of 2021.

Hospitals have been scaling back services considerably due to shortages of essential medicines, while many others have been forced to shut down.

“Donors have the power to correct this devastating situation. Their decisions have had a direct impact on access to healthcare that people desperately need. What is happening in northwest Syria right now is a horrific humanitarian crisis,” Maalouf said.

The humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria is also likely to have been exacerbated by Turkish and US-backed Takfiri armed groups, who have been known over the course of the war in Syria to hoard aid for their own benefit.

Damascus has accused these groups of stealing aid for the purpose of starving certain areas and blaming it on the government.

According to an exclusive report by Sputnik Arabic from January, the leaders of the armed  group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), have enriched themselves by misappropriating international aid meant to help with the humanitarian crisis in Syria’s rebel-controlled northern region, where the extreme poverty rate stands at 97 percent.

Citing sources close to the matter, the report indicates that as soon as international aid is brought in from Turkey, those in charge of distributing it to families in need instead seize the aid, collecting it in warehouses controlled by HTS.

The stolen humanitarian aid later reappears on the black market, and is sold for exorbitant prices.

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