Press ReleasesSyria/Turkey Earthquake Relief Updates
Edinburg, TX – Just two weeks after the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, two more earthquakes with 6.4 and 5.8 magnitudes just shook the region, terrifying people once again. UOSSM initial reports show at least 94 injuries and several collapsed buildings in northwest Syria. Most of the injuries are a result of people panicking, many are even jumping from buildings. Those numbers could continue to rise as the earthquake hit at night. Initial reports in Turkey indicate at least three deaths and over 123 injuries, those numbers are expected to rise as well. The region has been experiencing hundreds of aftershocks since the initial earthquake. UOSSM staff are already receiving and treating victims.
The earthquake on February 6 has killed at least 46,000 people, injured tens of thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and caused the collapse of thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria. Many more buildings could collapse after these earthquakes as a result of weakened foundations and structures from the previous earthquake and aftershocks.
UOSSM has been on the ground since the earthquake hit providing emergency medical care to the victims through its hospitals and healthcare facilities, medical and mental health care services through its mobile clinics integrated with mental health, and transported and referred victims as needed in the hardest hit areas.
In addition, through our local partners on the ground, we have helped with rescue and recovery, provided shelter, food, clothes, and non-food items.
The state on the ground is in dire need of immediate and increased global, humanitarian support to allow local humanitarian actors to deliver essential assistance. Currently, three crossing points are authorized for humanitarian aid between Turkey and Syria. Collective solidarity is needed to ensure an immediate and effective response in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
Dr. Anas Alkassem, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of UOSSM Canada was already on the ground in a medical mission in Syria. As he was visiting Aqrabat Hospital the earthquakes hit saying in a live video, “We are at the Aqrabat hospital at the moment, we felt the terrible shock, a quake that brought fear to all patients and staff. All staff and patients are safe, yet we had to evacuate patients including children to the outdoor space. We hope there will be no injuries and casualties, yet we are waiting, prepared, and ready to receive cases.” You can watch his video here.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “Our hearts go out to the people of Syria and Turkey who have been living in a constant state of fear, panic, and heartbreak since February 6. We call on the international community to remember that these people have been affected both physically and mentally and will need support from the world as they try to heal and rebuild. We pray for the safety of everyone in both countries, this is so tragic.”
Edinburg, TX – Over 150 people have been killed and hundreds wounded after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Turkey and Syria causing massive damage early Monday morning. Those numbers are expected to rise dramatically as many buildings collapsed with large numbers of people buried under the rubble. There are many reports of complete families buried under the rubble of those buildings. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of crush and trauma injuries. At least one hospital in northern Syria is being evacuated after its structure was compromised.
UOSSM calls on the international community to release emergency funds to provide aid and rescue resources immediately. UOSSM hospitals and medical facilities are overwhelmed and will need support to ensure lives are saved during this crisis. Countless families became homeless yet again and are in desperate need of shelter, medical aid, food, and sources for heat.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “The news we are seeing is terrifying and heartbreaking. We know building infrastructures in Syria have already been compromised from years of bombing campaigns. We need urgent aid immediately so we can help save lives of those injured in this massive earthquake. Our staff is working tirelessly but are overwhelmed with the numbers of casualties. We need urgent support immediately! Countless lives are at stake.”
You can donate and support our work on the ground here.
Edinburg, TX – As winter settles in bringing even more misery to the Syrian people, the looming threat of the failure to renew the United Nations Security Council Cross Border Resolution 2504 will put millions of lives in danger in northwest Syria. The vote is scheduled for January 10, 2023.
International funding has already decreased significantly in the region causing the loss of vital facilities, further adding to the suffering of over 4 million people at unprecedented levels. The spread of diseases and epidemics are an imminent threat if food and clean water deliveries are halted. Over 3 million people in the region are food insecure. Ongoing internal displacement continues to cause a rise in food and medical needs.
Winter continues to be the harshest time of year for displaced families. Last year, 30% of displacement camps were flooded by rain or snow.
According to the Syrian NGO Alliance (SNA), closing the border will lead to the closure of approximately 70 hospitals, over 180 health care centers, and over 80 mobile clinics that provide medical and primary health care services to over 4 million people in northwest Syria. This border crossing is considered a lifeline and is vital for millions in northwest Syria.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “Decisions on humanitarian aid should only be based on the extent of human need and suffering and not on politics. There are millions that will suffer if this lifeline is closed. We call on the international community to extend the resolution to ensure the most basic human needs, which is the bare minimum guaranteed by international laws. The resolution extension will ultimately save lives.”
Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) boards and staff throughout the world condemn the attack in Istanbul that has killed at least six people and injured 81. The attack happened in busy Istiklal Street earlier Sunday afternoon. It is still unclear who carried out the attack.
UOSSM condemns all attacks on innocent civilians and stands in solidarity with the Turkish people and the Turkish government.
Dr. Ghanem Tayara, President of UOSSM International said, “Our hearts are with the victims and the families of this horrific attack. The attack happened in the middle of the day on a very busy street filled with families enjoying their Sunday. We stand in solidarity with the Turkish people and government who have stood by and supported Syrians through their darkest and most difficult times. Innocent civilians are never a target. We hope the Turkish government finds those responsible and brings them to justice.”
Edinburg, TX – On Sunday, November 6, 2022, at 7:00 a.m. Damascus time, the Kafar Jalis Displacement Camp in northwest Syria was attacked by cluster bombs killing nine civilians, including three children and one woman, according to the Syrian Civil Defense. Over 75 others were wounded in the attack. Thousands of displaced people live in the camp that was attacked on Sunday.
In a separate attack, two civilians were injured in artillery shelling in the outskirts of Areeha and the village of Sarmin, south of Idlib.
These attacks were the first major attacks in a relatively calm year in Syria.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “It is deeply disturbing to hear of these attacks that once again targeted innocent civilians, using internationally prohibited cluster bombs. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, who are just trying to survive, in dire conditions. These bombings further add to their suffering. We call on the international community to stop these attacks on innocent civilians and to hold those responsible, accountable for their crimes. The lives of innocent families are in danger if attacks like this are not stopped.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 19, 2022
UOSSM USA Partners with U.S. Department of State and Bareeq Educational Enrichment Center to Provide Enrichment and Psychosocial Support Services to Refugees and Underserved Children in Jordan
Edinburg, TX – UOSSM USA was recently awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of State to support educational enrichment integrated with psychosocial support services (PSS) to refugee and underserved children in Jordan. Working in collaboration with Bareeq Educational Enrichment Center (BEEC) in Amman, this after-school program will assist 400 children in becoming better prepared to integrate into local school systems. UOSSM USA will leverage this partnership to incorporate a refugee responsive teaching competencies model (RRTCM) that will enable refugee children to access enrichment programming after school, while also strengthening the capacity of teachers to provide academic enrichment through social emotional learning (SEL) and psychosocial support services (PSS)-specific activities.
The primary objectives of this after-school program are to:
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA stated, “We are honored to build upon our partnership with the Bareeq Center and have this opportunity to continue enriching the education of these children and providing the psychosocial support they so desperately need. Many of these children are Syrian refugees who have witnessed unimaginable atrocities, the loss of loved ones, displacement, and other traumatic experiences. Through this collaboration, we hope to help these children overcome their trauma and empower them with fair and equal access to education. With the support of the U.S. Department of State, these children will receive the nurturance they need to improve their overall wellbeing and contribute positively to our global society. Children are our future – they are our hope for a better tomorrow. We are very pleased to be a part of this transformational journey which will help them heal as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.”
Edinburg, TX – Fears of a Cholera outbreak are growing among the health sector in northwest Syria. With an already strained health care system due to years of war, attacks on healthcare facilities, and most recently, COVID, fears have become a reality with the first two Cholera cases confirmed on September 17. This has now become an imminent danger, putting vulnerable lives at risk. The suspected main culprit of the Cholera outbreak is unclean water from the Euphrates River used for drinking and watering crops (resulting in food contamination), and improper sewage among displacement camps.
The two patients were hospitalized from the Marma All Hajar Village in Jarablus and were experiencing acute watery diarrhea, vomiting with fever, and severe dehydration – all symptoms consistent with Cholera. As of October 4, there were 488 total suspected cases in northwest Syria, and 114 cases in Nabaa Al Salam (Peace Spring) according to EWARN Syria. Those numbers continue to rise.
The outbreak began in northeast Syria in early September. As of October 4, there were 8228 suspected cases, and 23 deaths in northeast Syria, according to EWARN Syria.
UOSSM is responding with preventative measures in northwest Syria for mild to moderate cases including:
1. Providing healthcare centers with infection prevention and control (IPC) means.
2. Providing healthcare facilities with Cholera kits and activating oral rehydration points in each health facility, to provide oral rehydration solution for patients to prevent dehydration, and to prevent escalation to severe illness.
3. Providing community wide awareness campaigns via community health workers (CHWs) – with awareness messages about Cholera and prevention methods – created by the health cluster.
4.Training community health workers to refer suspected cases to healthcare centers to receive appropriate care in a timely manner.
5. Providing capacity building for Trainers of Trainers (ToT) for health care workers. They will then train other healthcare providers and community health workers to have the capacity and ability to provide correct and accurate information, and to provide referrals to healthcare centers.
The CHWs will be responsible for:
– Providing awareness messages
– Distributing hygiene kits and oral rehydration solutions
– Referring suspected cases
For severe cases, UOSSM seeks to establish Cholera Treatment Units (CTU), treatment units attached to existing health facilities in northwest Syria.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, president of UOSSM USA said, “We are deeply concerned that this outbreak could turn into an epidemic in northern Syria, further adding to the suffering these families are experiencing every day. The health sector in Syria, which is already strained beyond capacity, needs more support to prepare for such dire situations, which could potentially cause widespread illness and many deaths. We call on the international community to ensure the health sector is supported so it can respond to such an outbreak if needed.”
UOSSM USA was recently awarded two grants by Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) for the support of two food insecurity projects in Cincinnati, Ohio. With rising prices across the nation, many families are struggling just to keep up. Consequently, securing healthy food is no longer a priority in the face of rising costs. But with the support of IRUSA, UOSSM USA has been helping these families overcome the challenge of food insecurity.
During the holy month of Ramadan (April), UOSSM USA partnered with the Islamic Association of Cincinnati (IAC) – Clifton Mosque to distribute 80 food baskets to 75 vulnerable families through its food pantry. These food baskets were comprised of food essentials such as meat, bread, beans, rice, lentils, and dates, needed to keep families healthy.
During the month of Dhul Hijjah (July), UOSSM USA partnered with Casablanca Market in Cincinnati to distribute close to 1,400 pounds of Adahi/Qurbani (lamb) meat to 184 vulnerable families.
Since 2018, UOSSM has been distributing food essentials in Syria and Jordan to families in need. The nutrition provided helps protect their health by building strength and immunity through nutrition ultimately aiding in warding off disease. UOSSM USA is now leading similar efforts in local communities within the US.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA expressed: “It was wonderful to partner with Islamic Relief USA and our local partners for these food insecurity projects that are so needed right here in our Cincinnati community. UOSSM USA has been doing this type of work for many years for needy, displaced, refugee, and underserved families in areas of crisis such as Syria and Jordan, but thanks to the generous support of Islamic Relief USA and that of our local partners, we are able to bring this type of humanitarian relief to our local communities. We are helping to strengthen the health and overall wellbeing of these families. But more importantly, we are giving these families not only hope, but also the dignity to persevere.”
Edinburg, TX – On Friday, August 19, 15 civilians were killed, including five children, and over 30 others were injured, including at least 11 children, in military attacks on a popular market, a school, and civilian homes in Al Bab in northern Syria. The school and homes were significantly damaged.
Many displaced families live in Al Bab after seeking refuge from major attacks in 2018-2019. Al Bab is one of the largest cities in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, president of UOSSM USA said, “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families of these heinous crimes against innocent civilians. Over the years, Al Bab has been the subject of several military bombings and attacks, an area where displaced families have moved to as a last resort fleeing violence. We just commemorated the ninth year since the chemical attack in Ghouta and civilians continue to be targeted to this day. We call on the international community to put a stop to attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Attacks on civilian areas leave 15 dead including 5 children.
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