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Press Release

IRC providing urgent health care for fleeing civilians from both sides of Syria-Jordan border

  • IRC launches mobile health operations at border with Jordan
  • Also providing health care and cash support in Quneitra close to Golan Heights
  • IRC forced to suspend critical aid programs in eastern Dar’a because of fighting

As airstrikes resume in southern Syria, the International Rescue Committee is stepping up its health response on both sides of the Syrian-Jordanian border to help some of the 320,000 people displaced by fighting. This response comes despite the suspension of the IRC’s critical humanitarian aid programs in eastern Dar’a and the displacement of over half the IRC’s staff inside southern Syria.

An IRC mobile health clinic is treating patients in the Jordanian Free Zone at the Jaber/Nassib border crossing. Around 60,000 people have fled to the area following intense bombardment and military advancement in Eastern Dar’a. The health team includes a doctor and a nurse as well as midwife, and the IRC is the only organization currently providing maternal health care at the border.

Our health team reported that patients had suffered sun exposure and were extremely distressed after spending more than a week on the border, where many are struggling without enough shelter and water while contending with 45-degree heat, desert winds and scorpions. The UN reported 12 children have died at the border so far.

Two IRC-supported mobile health teams are also reaching displaced people who have found shelter in four villages in Quneitra province close to the Golan Heights. Our teams have found people fearful of bombardment, using blankets as makeshift tents or simply sleeping on the street, leaving them vulnerable to scorpion stings and snake bites. These sites have a lack of toilets or electricity and many children are struggling with diarrhea and lice. It is estimated that over 160,000 people have fled to Quneitra province following attacks in Western Dar’a.

Mark Schnellbaecher, the International Rescue Committee’s Middle East Region Vice President, said: “The people we are reaching are in a desperate situation. People are fleeing in a panicked state and frequently finding themselves in locations lacking basic shelter or enough toilets and water. We are worried for the safety of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians stuck at the border without anywhere to go. There needs to be an immediate end to the bombardment and fighting so that those most in need can be reached.”

The IRC continues to support five health clinics that remain operational in southern Syria and has also managed to give out emergency cash equivalent to $150 to over 700 families in Quneitra to help them pay for food, rent and other essentials. The IRC intends to distribute cash to more than 5,000 displaced families over the next week. IRC teams also identify the most vulnerable people amongst the displaced to ensure they get access to the services they need. 

The IRC provided health care to over 250,000 people in southern Syria in 2017, as well as helping a further 50,000 people gain an income, 1,000 people regain essential legal documents and over 800 children learn how to read, write and do math.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.