Tue 07 Apr 2020

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Community murals to raise awareness and support war-affected people in Azaz

Mural in support of people with special needs (Step Voluntary Team‎)

Mural in support of people with special needs (Step Voluntary Team‎)

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Enab Baladi – Aleppo countryside

Amputees in opposition-controlled areas face many problems, from the moment of their injury until the recovery of their wounds. They then started to search for a prosthetics installation organization. In case they achieve this and overcome the obstacles of searching and movement, they are hit by the complicated social and living reality, even for those who are physically recovered.

To support the amputees psychologically, a group of activists organized a “Step” voluntary campaign. The campaign draws the community’s attention to these people’s problems, through several murals that support people with disabilities, war-affected people and amputees, in the city of Azaz and its vicinity in northern Aleppo.

Motivation and encouragement

Ahmad Haj Bakri, a campaign organizer, told Enab Baladi that the murals are among the campaign’s tools, aiming to deliver a message to society, and trying to support war-affected people who were subjected to the amputation of limbs, as a result of the bombing of the regime forces and its Russian ally or the explosion of mines and explosive devices. The campaign is also attempting to reintegrate them into society and bring them back to a healthy life after the end of treatment.

Bakri added that the mural paintings are mostly motivational and encouraging, and they are one of the solutions to get the amputees out of their illness and motivate them to search for job opportunities and not to stay at home out of fear of “society’s gaze at them and the frustrating words that they can hear.”

The campaign also tries to push the society to be more positive with these people, support them, and prioritize them in employment opportunities, if there are any, so that their injury cannot be an obstacle preventing them from entering the labor market, participating in elections or practicing their lives regularly.

The campaign is not limited to mural paintings, according to Haj Bakri, as meetings and sessions were held with the injured in the city of Azaz, after the preparation of statistics about them, their whereabouts and their practical experiences. Therefore any organization that has job vacancies can prioritize them in employment in case they are eligible.

The media campaign has so far supported about 300 registered amputees in Azaz, to form a union, gathering or platform that brings them together, intending to pressure the city’s acting parties.

The gathering can be a means of providing services to them and solving their problems, and a suitable place for exchanging expertise and experiences between them.

The first stages of coordination started with the creation of a group on the social media app “WhatsApp,” bringing together the injured of the city of Azaz.

Exacerbated suffering

The suffering of amputees as a result of the war in the opposition-controlled areas is due to several reasons, including field surgeries that were performed quickly at the moment of injury, due to the absence of specialist doctors and the lack of sterilization materials during amputations, as most amputations require amputation correction, especially in post-ambulatory injury cases.

The suffering is further exacerbated by the search for medical centers supported by organizations to install the prosthetics, which consumes effort and takes a long time, in addition to the financial cost if the patients moved between cities and towns in northern Syria.

The World Health Organization estimated that more than three million Syrians are suffering from war disabilities and injuries. According to a report published by the organization in December 2018, 1.5 million Syrians were injured as a result of conflicts and war in Syria after 2011, at a rate of 30,000 injuries every month, noting that 86,000 people are amputees, a third of whom are children.

The report attributed the reason for the rise in the number of the “war disabled” to the use of new weapons and explosives, especially the explosive barrels and incendiary weapons that have been used during the past seven years in Syria.

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