Activists in the besieged town of Madaya in the Damascus suburbs made urgent appeals to the international community on Sundayfor help securing the evacuation of a young girl after a sniper’s bullet hit and broke her leg, an injury which the medical staff still left in the city is unable to treat.
Ghani, nine years old, was going to get IV fluid from a field hospital for her mother who suffers from malnutrition five days ago when a regime sniper hit her. When her sister rushed to her side, she was also hit, according to what Husam Madaya told to the Syrian Voice.
Muhammed Darwish, a doctor serving on Madaya’s Medical Council, “the bullet broke her thigh bone, and it is essential that she be evacuated because her surgery requires an external fixation device. If she isn’t able to get this, her injury will result in the leg becoming shorter, which will become a permanent disability.”
“We’ve communicated with the organizations working on Madaya like the United Nations and the Red Crescent, but the response was, as is always the case, that the parties to the agreement have not agreed to move her,” added Dr. Darwish.
Ghani emblemizes of the suffering of Madaya residents, which has been under siege since July 2015, as well as lack of seriousness on the part of the United Nations and other international organizations in finding effective solutions to stop the rapidly deteriorating standards of life and healthcare in the town.
Abd al-Wahab Ahmad, an activist in Madaya, was also injured by a sniper’s bullet, which became lodged in his back, at the end of last June. The story of his injury was widespread in Arab media following appeals to aid organizations on Madaya and for media attention picked up steam.
“1,000 people added me on Facebook in just 3 days!” said Ahmad.
“I communicated with the Red Crescent to try to leave and get treatment, but I didn’t receive any formal reply. I also tried to speak with the Red Cross but they told me that the people who could help me where the Red Crescent and the UN.”
“After that I got in contact with the UN, and their response was that that the operation couldn’t happen until both negotiation parties, Jeish al Fatah and Hezbollah agreed, and that any person leaving Madaya would have to be in exchange for someone else being allowed to leave from al-Fuaa, a town in Idlib, which is surrounded by Jeish al Fatah.”
Another injured resident of Madaya, Ibrahim Abbas, told the Syrian Voice his story of frustrations trying to leave Madaya.
“I was able to leave during an exchange of wounded nine months after I was injured: I was injured on June 3 2015 and was evacuated on April 20 2016. This operation happened after I communicated with the United Nations three times, on top of making appeals to other organizations six times. I had previously gotten promises to get me out but they didn’t happen.”
Abbas said he didn’t just suffer physically, but mentally as well.
“My mental state then was very difficult, and my spirits were at their lowest levels, especially when I saw other evacuation operations and my name wasn’t on the list.”
The standard of life and healthcarein Madaya, which has 40,000 residents, are constantly getting worse because the Syrian regime and Hezbollah have not followed through on the provisions of the “Jeish al-Fatah” truce that was agreed to in September 2015. One of the truce’s most important conditions was opening up access for humanitarian caravans and evacuating injured from Zabadani and Madaya and Kafraya and al-Fu’aa.
“Ghani’s case isn’t the only one of its kind in Madaya,” said Dr. Darwish.
“We currently have six cases that need immediate evacuation, two of whom have meningitis,” he said, mentioning the case of a 22 year old woman who had lost her vision because of her condition and the lack of medicine and medical equipment.
“We have six urgent cases, but according to our statistics there are also 250 cases of sick people who need treatment and medicine, because the last aid caravan came three months ago,” said Husam Madaya.
The state of medical care in Madaya defies description. The United Nations, Red Cross/Red Crescent, and other human rights organization have, in conflict of their standards and principle, to unwittingly participate in the siege being imposed on several areas, of which Madaya, along with the city of Daraya are the most severe cases.
All 40,000 of the town’s residents get their medical care from just one field hospital which is run by three doctors, one of whom, trained as a veterinarian, is the director. The two others are dentists who have not yet finished their degrees, but were pushed by the circumstances of the war to take on these roles in the hospital, which only has six nurses according to Dr. Darwish.
One hundred and eight-seven deaths have been recorded in the town since the siege began in July, with causes ranging from starvation, sniper fire, or because of mines planted by the regime and Hezbollah around the outskirts of the town to prevent residents from leaving. The siege has also resulted in more than 500 instances of mental health cases, and twelve suicides, according to a report from the United Aid Council in Madaya and Zabadani.