The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) organization revealed the obstacles it faces in moving its teams around regime-held areas of Syria, due to restrictions by the latter in allowing them to do their work. The statement came during a meeting at which the organization reviewed its work in helping Syria’s fragile health system to face the coronavirus pandemic.
MSF spokesperson Salwa Abu Shaqra said the organization’s teams are facing many restrictions, hindering their access to areas under regime control. According to newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, she pointed out that MSF had brought forth numerous requests to obtain access, and that all of them failed.
Abu Shaqra added that the organization’s usual activities, as well as those connected to the coronavirus pandemic, in regime-controlled areas are done in coordination with local Ministry of Health authorities.
She pointed out that services provided by MSF in Syria’s opposition-held north focus on reviewing triage systems and the flow of patients in the hospitals and medical centers that it supports in Idleb governorate, in order to ensure the rapid discovery of a possible coronavirus outbreak.
“Our working teams in northern Syria contribute to the Humanitarian Task Force on Coronavirus, which is headed by the local health authorities,” Abu Shaqra said.
She stressed that the coronavirus pandemic does not change the way that MSF operates in war zones, and that its work is to provide assistance to those who need it, without any form of discrimination, as the organization uses its independence and neutrality to negotiate with different parties to the conflict. This was in response to a question over how MSF deals with political divisions in the countries where it works.
According to Abu Shaqra, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the exhaustion of the richest and best equipped health systems in the world, raising disturbing expectations worldwide for countries that are at war like Syria and Yemen.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.