The Syrian conflict is one of the worst humanitarian crises of the last 30 years. Four million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries and 7.6 million people have been internally displaced. A shocking one million people have been injured, tens of thousands of whom need artificial limbs, orthopaedic devices, and long-term rehabilitation care.
“Handicap International is taking immediate action to prevent people developing permanent disabilities,” explains Florence Daunis, Handicap International’s director of operations. “Syria will face the same challenge for decades to come. Substantial resources will be needed to ensure people injured in the conflict have access to rehabilitation care and adapted orthopaedic devices for the rest of their lives.”
Since Handicap International launched its operation in Jordan and Lebanon in 2012, it has continued to scale-up its activities and has extended its response to include Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan. It has deployed more than 600 professionals in these four countries, supplied aid to more than 360,000 people, and fitted 2,700 people with orthopaedic devices. Mobile teams made up of 190 local staff visit camps and communities to identify the most vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, in order to determine their needs and help them access services.
“We need to constantly adapt our approach to the situation facing Syrians who have stayed in their country, and to refugees – who move from camps to reception centres to host communities – in order to respond to the needs of vulnerable people as effectively as possible,” says Florence Daunis. “The hotline set up by Handicap International in Jordan and Lebanon shows that we are able to adapt and we are determined not to lose sight of the most vulnerable individuals. Refugees experiencing the greatest difficulties and who are living in host communities - and therefore less visible than in a camp – can use the service to tell us where they are and get the help they need.”
Given the scale of the task ahead, and with no end to the conflict in sight, Handicap International is calling on the international community to do everything possible to guarantee access to care for people with injuries and chronic illnesses - a task made more difficult by the closing of certain borders. The organisation has underlined the importance of rehabilitation care and orthopaedic-fitting for victims of the conflict in preventing the development of permanent disabilities, loss of autonomy and social exclusion, and in reducing the impact on the health system and, more generally, Syrian society in the future.