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Children disfigured by war

Syrian Civil Defense's women team on duty in Selwa area, administratively affiliated to al-Dana, northern Idlib countryside – 8 July (Enab Baladi/Shadiya Ta'na')

Syrian Civil Defense's women team on duty in Selwa area, administratively affiliated to al-Dana, northern Idlib countryside – 8 July (Enab Baladi/Shadiya Ta'na')

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“My joy was brutally murdered by a Russian bombardment that targeted our home on the second day of Eid al-Adha of 2019. I was injured in the head, while my brother died immediately. My son and daughter also suffered injuries.”

Mustafa, a child, was in a critical condition. Burns have eaten away at his face and body, leaving disfigurements that still mark him to this day—his mother, Fatima al-Rayya, recounting his story to Enab Baladi.

Mustafa al-Ibrahim and his family were rushed from Ma’aret Hurma town to the ‘National Hospital’ in Ma’aret al-Mu’man city, southern Idlib countryside. This was only after Orient Hospital had refused to administer him because of his severely critical conditions, Fatima told us.

A lengthy, costly recovery journey

“Lengthy and costly,” This is how Fatima describes her trial to treat her son’s burns in Idlib province. He was put, Fatima added, in the ICU for 16 days at the National Hospital under the supervision of a “group of dermatologists, neurologists, and surgeons.”

He was transferred afterward to Afrin city, Aleppo countryside, to continue his treatment where he remained for over a month, before being transferred back to Idlib city to treat his burns.

Mustafa still needs multiple surgeries to his joint, let alone the treatment necessary for the disfigurement resultants from the burns. His treatment came to a halt due to the poor conditions of his family, who were unable to afford creams with its high costs.

60% of burn victims are children

The Syrian Civil Defense’s research office in North Syria told Enab Baladi that 898 burn cases have been treated and medically served by the Syrian Civil Defense teams since the beginning of the year as of this writing.

Over 60% of those cases, the office adds, are for children who account for 644 injuries, while the number of women and men suffering burn injuries is 202 and 34, respectively.

Treatment in Turkey

Burn victims in North Syria are transferred in the event they were deemed critical since local hospitals lack the capabilities to treat such cases, according to the coordinator for the women centers at the Civil Defense, Zahra al-Deyab, who assists in treating burn victims.

In the town of Atama, there is only one hospital in northern Syria that treats burn cases, known as ‘al-Horouq’ (the ‘Burns Hospital’). Al-Deyab stresses that restrictions imposed on the health sector, coupled with decreased support, has limited the capabilities of the centers operating there.

Speaking to Enab Baladi, Mazin Alloush, who is the head of the media office at the Bab al-Hawa crossing connecting Idlib province and Hatay province on the Turkish side, noted that referring burn victims to Turkey has not been halted due to measures taken in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.

Turkey receives first- and second-degree burn cases from Syria on a daily basis, according to Alloush. June saw the transfer of 18 cases, compared to 16 in May. In addition, 2019 saw a total of 290 cases transferred.

Al-Deyab revealed to Enab Baladi that their team has 220 female volunteers across 33 women centers.

Volunteers provide services such as awareness sessions and health services, including, most notably, first aid. Many of the cases those centers receive are children and women, most of which suffer burns.

Other health services they provide include transferring cases to hospitals, where primary healthcare is provided, and regularly following on cases until full recovery.

Most burns, according to Dyab, are a result of domestic fires on account of the fact that a large portion of the residents in North Syria live in tents and rely on rudimentary methods for heating and cooking such as firewood and gas, in addition to burns resulting from shelling by Syrian regime forces targeting civilians.

Dyad cited a shortage of medical supplies needed to treat burn cases as one of the difficulties faced by those centers. “We always try to secure as many supplies as we can, such as gauze, sterilizers, and burn creams,” she added.

 

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