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UOSSM USA Partners with Islamic Relief USA for Food Insecurity Projects in Cincinnati, Ohio

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.

Edinburg, TX – Millions of lives are in imminent danger and the situation could be catastrophic if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) fails to renew the UNSC 2504 Cross Border resolution by July 10, 2022. Needs continue to rise at unprecedented levels, and more Syrians are now at risk for hunger than any other time in the past 11 years. With over 70% of the population experiencing food insecurity, and the cost of food continuing to rise exponentially. Closing the cross-border could result in catastrophic consequences.

 

According to a letter signed by 32 NGO leaders, “Converging crises and economic shocks including drought, inflation, economic collapse among Syria’s neighbors, and the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded an already dire humanitarian situation. As a result, today more than 14.6 million Syrians are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive, including 4.1 million people living in the northwest who are largely reliant on cross-border humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.”

 

In 2021, the UN-led cross-border response allowed humanitarian actors to reach over 2.4 million people per month, which includes food for 1.8 million people, nutrition assistance to 85,000, education for 78,000 children, and access to life-saving dignity kits for 250,000 women and girls. In addition, delivery of critical medical items and supplies needed to provide lifesaving health services and response to COVID-19, and to increase people’s resilience to cope with adverse weather conditions helped save lives.

 

There are over two million people in need of medical assistance in Idlib. Closing the border will not only result in hunger and malnutrition but also leave the most vulnerable including newborn babies, their mothers, and patients with life-threatening illnesses and diseases without access to the care and medicine they need and deserve, resulting in countless unnecessary deaths.

 

We call on the UN, INGOs and the international community to ensure that desperately needed aid continues to reach the most vulnerable families in Syria and to prevent a catastrophic situation to millions in the region by renewing the cross-border assistance resolution for the Bab Al-Hawa Crossing to NW Syria.

 

Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “We implore the international community to save lives by renewing the cross-border resolution. Closing the border will have catastrophic consequences on the most vulnerable of people living in dire conditions. 75% of those displaced families in northwest Syria are children and women, that rely on humanitarian aid and relief to survive. The UNSC and the international community must do the right thing continuing to allow aid in through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing, which will ultimately save lives and prevent mass starvation. Millions of lives are at stake.”

Displaced Syrian Children

Edinburg, TX – UOSSM completed its fourth medical mission in Ukraine which lasted for two weeks in early June. The medical mission included surgical trainings for surgeons on the frontlines and meetings and planning for future UOSSM work in Ukraine.

The surgical trainings, led by UOSSM, and in partnership with the David Nott Foundation (DNF), were planned and facilitated by Dr. Ahmad Dbais and the UOSSM Ukraine team. Dr. Khaula Sawah and Dr. Monzer Yazji, both co-founders of UOSSM USA, joined the surgical trainings.
The DNF and team, led by world renowned war doctor, Dr. David Nott, who have worked with UOSSM in the past in Syria and have experience in war medicine in war inflicted areas, wanted to help local doctors and surgeons by providing these vital trainings. The main objective of the Hostile Environment Surgical Trainings (HEST) was to share expertise with local surgeons on the frontlines.

 

Surgeons receiving HEST training in Ukraine
UOSSM facilitated the logistics of the surgical trainings coordinating with local authorities and invited surgeons with different specialties to attend the courses.

The HEST trainings included one three-day course in Dnipro, where 38 surgeons received the training, and another three-day training in Kharkiv, where 30 surgeons received the intensive and engaging training course. The trainee surgeons were very appreciative and felt they benefitted greatly from the training courses. Both cities have been on the frontlines and under attack causing many war injuries. The surgical trainings will help give surgeons the tools and expertise they need to treat war injuries and ultimately save lives. Dr. Nott and team posted on the David Nott Foundation page, “We want doctors to feel empowered – sometimes all that’s needed is confidence. We want doctors to feel inspired to learn and try the techniques they’ve seen on our course.”

In addition to the trainings, one complicated surgery was also performed on a patient with war wounds.
UOSSM will continue to provide medical training to doctors from the expertise gained from over 10 years of war in Syria.
UOSSM and DNF teams at HEST trainings in Ukraine
Dr. Sawah met with the director of the Ukrainian Ministry of Public Health Center of Emergency Medical Aid and Disaster Medicine, Dr. Vitaliy Kryliuk (Віталій Крилюк) after the Dnipro training. Dr. Kruylik was impressed with the work UOSSM is doing on the ground in Ukraine and emphasized on the importance to provide doctors and surgeons with more advanced, structured, vital trainings, and to provide Training of Trainers (ToTs) courses to advance the skills of Ukrainian surgeons to handle and treat war zone injuries in particular on the frontlines to train fellow Ukrainian surgeons.

UOSSM doctors felt the duty to provide Ukrainian doctors and patients with support and invaluable expertise gained from the 11-year Syrian crisis.

Dr. Sawah said, “We know exactly how the Ukrainian doctors and civilians are feeling, and what they are experiencing. The brutal effects of war…the fear…the helplessness…the uncertainty…that is why we chose to share our experiences and expertise gained over the past 11 years in Syria, with the Ukrainian people. We want to help save lives. It was heartwarming to see people just come up to us and thank us for our support especially after they knew where we came from and what we have been doing for over a decade in Syria. We hope to continue to have more impact in Ukraine, supporting civilians with medical and humanitarian relief, and doctors and healthcare professionals with vital training and support to help save lives.”

Dr. Sawah added, “The UOSSM Ukraine team is making a difference every day with these trainings, mental health workshops, and medical and humanitarian relief amid the massive displacement during the last three months.”
Dr. Sawah met with the director of the Ukrainian Ministry of Public Health Center of Emergency Medical Aid and Disaster Medicine, Dr. Vitaliy Kryliuk
UOSSM/David Nott Foundation Surgical Trainings in Ukraine

UOSSM has been responding to the crisis in Ukraine by providing expertise gained from over 10 years of war in Syria through medical missions and training. On April 2 -12, UOSSM, in partnership with British renowned war doctor, Dr. David Nott of the David Nott Foundation, led a surgical medical mission, providing training workshops to doctors, and critical surgeries to patients affected by the war in Ukraine. Dr. David Nott, Dr. Monzer Yazji, Dr. Ahmad Dbais and Dr. Mohammed Zaidiye all contributed and coordinated in the surgical medical mission.

Throughout the 10 days, the medical mission team visited seven major hospitals throughout several geographical locations in eastern, central, and western Ukraine, where complex reconstructive and plastic surgeries were performed on victims of attacks. 40 doctors observed and received trainings during the surgeries. In addition, three workshops were provided to over 37 doctors with different surgical specialties.  The workshops taught doctors about damage and impact on the human body from different types of weapons during war, different types of trauma resulting from these weapons, and response handling these injuries including damage control, emergency surgery, and plastic and reconstructive surgery.

A new surgical medical mission is being planned in June to provide support to the doctors and people of Ukraine.

Dr. David Nott wrote on his foundation page about his visit in Ukraine, “Now having seen the devastation, it feels like the exact same tactics as in Syria. When I was in Aleppo in 2016, the whole region was completely and utterly destroyed. What we’re seeing in cities like Mariupol – the destruction – feels very similar to what I witnessed in Aleppo.”

UOSSM Ukraine was established in Ukraine with an office in Lutsk and two medical clinics, one in Lviv and one in Lutsk, providing urgent medical care to displaced Ukrainians and vital trainings to doctors and medical staff.

Dr. Monzer Yazji, co-founder of UOSSM USA said, “As Dr. Nott and I were visiting hospitals in Ukraine, we witnessed very similar severe injuries to the ones we witnessed in Syria. It was harrowing to see this type of history repeat itself and victims with the same types of horrible injuries. Our duty is to help the innocent civilians by providing them with urgent medical care, and support doctors by providing medical training on handling war-related injuries that they desperately need. The duty of the international community is to ensure that these types of attacks are never repeated again, anywhere in the world.”

You can support UOSSM’s medical mission work by clicking here.

 

Edinburg, TX – A UOSSM international relief team, composed of Syrian/American doctors, arrived in Ukraine earlier last week to begin relief efforts. UOSSM doctors are uniquely positioned to support aid efforts in Ukraine having operated under similar conflict conditions in Syria for the past 10 years including war wounds/injuries, displacement, chemical attacks and a major humanitarian crisis.

UOSSM already opened a field office, is operating a humanitarian relief station in Lviv for food and necessities, and a medical point in Lutsk. In addition, UOSSM is working to set up a field medical facility in Kiev. Dr. Monzer Yazji, a Syrian American doctor, cofounder of UOSSM/UOSSM USA, and leader of the mission, has been triaging some wounded patients, stabilizing them, and providing medicines in the Lutsk medical point.

The UN documented several targeted airstrike attacks on medical facilities in Syria by Russian forces, that killed countless medical workers including several UOSSM staff members. Now, the same horrors and war crimes witnessed in Syria are being documented in Ukraine, such as the bombing of the Mariupol hospital.

Dr. Yazji said, “UOSSM was a leading voice in documenting and exposing these war crimes to the world. The relentless airstrikes on cities, the opening of humanitarian corridors, and the subsequent attack of them was reminiscent of what we witnessed in Syria as well. We implore the international community to make this time different.”

Displaced Ukrainian civilians, many are children.

Dr. Yazji added, “The latest headlines are that the Syrian Regime is sending fighters to support Russia’s invasion. We want Ukrainians and the world to know that Syrians have also experienced the same barbarism, and Syrians doctors today are there to utilize everything they have learned to support their medical and relief efforts in the field.”

UOSSM was founded in response to the Syrian crisis. Since 2012, UOSSM has been providing emergency care and relief, medical care and relief, mental healthcare, psychosocial support services, protection and nutrition services to millions of displaced and needy families affected by the crisis.

Dr. Monzer Yazji is on the ground in Ukraine and available for interview- in person/virtual.

You can support UOSSM’s medical mission work by clicking here.

Edinburg, TX – Dr. Monzer Yazji, co-founder of UOSSM and UOSSM USA, is leading a medical mission in Ukraine to provide medical relief to those affected by the war. UOSSM has gained invaluable expertise due to its role in the Syrian crisis since 2012 and will leverage this to provide the people of Ukraine with medical relief, support, and training in
response methods.
The medical mission team visited with officials, leaders, and agencies on the ground to assess the situation for gaps/shortages in medicines, medical supplies, training needs (such as treating war wounds) and other humanitarian shortages. According to the Ukraine Ministry of Health, there is a major need for medications and medical supplies.
Dr. Anas Al Kassem, vice-chair of UOSSM Canada, a sister organization – working with staff at a local hospital, already gathered a whole shipment of medications, medical supplies, and equipment to be sent directly to Ukraine.
Hospital team preparing shipment of medical supplies from UOSSM Canada to Ukraine.
Since February 24, 2022, over 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries in search of refuge from the indiscriminate bombings and attacks on civilian areas, hospitals and medical facilities, and while 1 million people have been internally displaced, at least 406 civilians have been killed.  That number is likely to rise due to continuous attacks.
The UN estimates that 12 million people will need relief and protection, while over 4 million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance in neighboring countries in the coming months.
Displaced Ukrainian civilians.
UOSSM condemns, in the strongest terms, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, civilian structures, and medical facilities, and calls on the international community to put a stop to these attacks.
UOSSM was founded in response to the Syrian crisis. Since 2012, UOSSM has been providing emergency care and relief, medical care and relief, mental healthcare and psychosocial support services, and protection and nutrition services to millions of displaced and needy families affected by the crisis.
Dr. Yazji said, “I have been watching the crisis of Ukraine from day one. History is repeating itself as I am seeing similar attacks and suffering that our people went through. I couldn’t sit back and watch the suffering of the Ukrainian people when we have learned so much from our work in Syria. I felt the duty to share our experience and help alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people. This is why we are starting our medical mission in Ukraine. This is our vision, mission and promise, to help everyone suffering in the world.”
You can support our medical mission work by clicking here.

Top 3 pictures: Dr. Yazji and team assessing situation on the ground in Ukraine.
Bottom picture: Displaced Ukrainian civilians.
Edinburg, TX – UOSSM launched the first electric vehicle in northern Syria. The vehicle will be used primarily for health services including vaccine transport between cold rooms and primary healthcare facilities, and to transport patients as part of the referral system.

 

Over a decade of ongoing conflict has left over 4 million people in northern Syria without access to critical health services. Aerial bombardment has destroyed healthcare and energy infrastructure, leaving civilians and healthcare workers to rely on diesel fuel, creating a cycle of dependency, fragility, and further contributes to conflict.

 

To address this challenge, a humanitarian innovation by Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) has successfully launched under the new Health System Resilience program in northern Syria. The electric vehicle otherwise known as, ‘ electrification of mobility,’ will be used primarily for health services including vaccine transport between cold rooms and primary healthcare facilities, and to transport patients as part of the referral system. The 100% solar-powered vehicle reduces dependency on fuel, while ensuring critical health services can run 24/7 in one of the most fragile settings. The expected metrics and outcomes of the pilot project will show its importance in improving and saving lives as it will be used for medical purposes and non-reliant on fuel- providing medical access in situations such as shortage of fuel in the area.

 

The 100% electric vehicle (EV) uses a lithium battery charged at health facilities powered by solar energy. The electric vehicle is expected to result in significant savings in the long term by reducing reliance on fuel, and strengthening and localizing the health system. In remote and conflict affected areas, health systems including hospitals and ambulances rely on diesel fuel for generating electricity and running mobile ambulatory services. However, in conflict zones, fuel is often a scarce resource and health centers, and hospitals are often under-resourced. UOSSM’s electric vehicle bypasses such challenges, delivering
life-saving medicines and healthcare using only solar energy.

 

The innovative project will help fill a critical gap where over 10 years of conflict in Syria has devastated health systems and energy infrastructure. The deployment of the electric vehicle is part of a broader project called the Health Integrated Resilience System (HIRS), and an extension of the “Syria Solar Initiative (SSI)” pioneered by UOSSM’s technical team focused on health system resilience, and is funded by Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge (HGC). UOSSM’s HIRS project aims to combine electric mobility, solar power, and telemedicine to increase cross-dimensional resilience for the health system and to deliver critical services in the most challenging conflict zones, and works towards building strong, independent and resilient health systems – humanizing technological advancements for the people who need it most.

 

New electric vehicle launched by UOSSM.
Ali Mohamad, UOSSM Environmental Engineer and Program Coordinator said, “At the Syria Solar Initiative (SSI), our ambition is to help mainstream such integrated approaches for resilience in similar contexts around the world. Our team is composed of highly qualified engineers and doctors, working together to advance this project. Our goal is to issue a report in the summer of 2022 which captures the results of this pilot project, and the HIRS approach more broadly with hopes that humanitarian practitioners and innovators can further build on this experience.”

 

Currently, UOSSM technical teams are evaluating the pilot project from different aspects (technical, economic, and logistical feasibility), with expected results that may transform future operations of health services in areas of crisis and war throughout the world – especially in light of the urgency to meet climate goals for deep decarbonization.

 

Where over 10 years of conflict in Syria has devastated health systems and energy infrastructure, UOSSM ‘s Health Integrated Resilience System works towards strong, independent, and resilient health systems, humanizing technological advancements for the people who need it most.

 

UOSSM aims to advance the adoption of renewable energy for critical health services, EVs as the primary mode of mobility, telemedicine which addresses the deep gap for health workers in the country. More technologies will be used in the future under the Health System Resilience Program not only for Syria, but for other similar humanitarian contexts.
Electric vehicle charged by solar power launched by UOSSM in northern Syria.

Watch the video to learn more!

Click here to learn more about our work!

Edinburg, TX – Northwest Syria is in a critical situation with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Since August 15, cases have risen at an alarming rate. The current positivity rate is lingering at around 55%. Hospital beds and ICUs are threatening to reach full capacity. Currently, there are only 173 ICU beds available throughout northwest Syria. This is further exacerbated by the shortage of PPE, medical supplies and equipment, including oxygen. The gap in oxygen supplies is at about 40%. The situation is dire and will prove catastrophic if not contained.

 

This comes at a time when there is a growing need for humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria. Between 2020 and 2021 the number of people in need has increased from 2.8 to 3.4 million people. Under current conditions, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Northwest Syria will be devastating.

 

Dr. Khaula Sawah, president of UOSSM USA said, “The situation is dire and deeply concerning and the results could be catastrophic with a high positivity rate, low vaccination rate and limited available ICU beds to treat the sick. In other countries, people have fought COVID-19 by staying home, social distancing, sanitizing their hands and wearing masks. When we ask the people of northwest Syria to stay home they have no home… we ask people to wear masks when there are no masks… We ask displaced and needy families to wash their hands where there is no water, and we ask people to social distance when they are living in crowded displacement camps. We call on the international community to take action by providing humanitarian and medical aid, increasing hospital capacity, and ensuring that people in northwest Syria get vaccinated to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Millions of lives are at stake.“

 

UOSSM is responding with the following:

 

  • COVID-19 Community Treatment Centers (CCTC)- 12 CCTCs include isolation area and severe case management.
  • Triage and Screening Mechanism Units- in front of 12 PHCs and includes triage tent and an examination tent.
  • Oxygen – including new oxygen station and 105 oxygen concentrators
  • Providing PPE- including distribution of 50,000 KN95 masks and PPE to 20 health facilities.
  • Distributing Medicines and Supplies
  • Coordination and Capacity Building- for medical workers
  • Awareness Raising Campaigns- throughout communities, via flyers, media, and social media.
  • Psychosocial Support- through helpline in southern Turkey, and 3 helplines in northwest Syria, plus 2 mental health mobile clinics

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2021

 

BREAKING: Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding in Daraa, Syria

 

Edinburg, TX – A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Daraa, Syria, as around 55,000 civilians – 10,000 families, are under siege with little to no access to food, medical care, medicine, or basic human needs. The city of Daraa has been under siege since June 24, 2021. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly. Many families are risking their lives fleeing to nearby areas in search of a safe haven for their families, while thousands of families remain in a dangerous situation, besieged and under attacks.

 

UOSSM is responding to the catastrophic situation in Daraa by providing immediate medical relief and food essentials to besieged and displaced families in need. Working with local organizations, UOSSM is able to provide emergency aid in the besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Daraa, and provide basic essentials needed to survive.

 

Since 2012, UOSSM has been on the ground providing medical aid and emergency relief to besieged and hard-to-reach areas inside Syria. UOSSM calls on all parties to provide safe passage and immediate access for humanitarian and medical aid. The lives of the elderly, young children and vulnerable populations are particularly at stake.

 

Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “We are very concerned with the current humanitarian situation in Daraa. We urge the international community to take immediate action to lift the siege on the people of Daraa, cease all violence against innocent civilians, and provide safe and secure humanitarian access by the UN and other humanitarian actors. The international community must act now! Thousands of lives are at risk if no immediate action is taken.” 

 


For Media Inquiries Please Contact:
Najah Allouch:
UOSSM USA- Director of Public Relations
Email: press@uossm.us

 

Since 2012, UOSSM has been providing emergency medical relief and healthcare services to the Syrian people affected by the crisis, working primarily inside Syria and with Syrian refugees in Turkey.
In 2020:
  • UOSSM provided medical services to almost 1 million people in Syria and Turkey
  • UOSSM provided primary health care services to over 582,000 people
  • UOSSM provided protection services to over 55,000 people
  • UOSSM provided over 281,000 beneficiaries with nutrition services focused on women and children
  • UOSSM Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services provided care to over 34,000 people
  • UOSSM Bab Al Hawa Hospital provided health care services to over 1 million patients since establishment through the end of 2019

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