Nadia's got a new phone and she won't put it down for anyone. Not even Hamid!

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Thursday 4th of July: Statement regarding the 3rd attack on Kofr Nobol hospital in Idlib, Syria

It is with astonishment and disappointment that we inform you of the 3rd attack on our surgical hospital in the Idlib province in north west Syria. This is the second time in 8 weeks that our hospital – which has been registered through the deconfliction mechanism as a humanitarian facility – has been a direct target of airborne missiles. The attack took place today, 4th of July, 2 months to the day after the last attack, and the hospital sustained not one but two offensives: the first carried out by military helicopters at 14:52 and the second coming just short of an hour later at 15:40 from Air to Surface Missiles. The attacks were directed at the entrance of the hospital and HIHFAD have had to suspend all services.

Since the start of May, we have witnessed a worrying rise in attacks on the area which has in turn driven a sharp increase in the number of internally displaced people who have been forced to evacuate to areas further in the north. These strategic acts of war are suffocating the local services and traumatising civilian populations who are running out of areas to flee to.

HIHFAD are extremely worried by this attack and fear that the effectiveness of the deconfliction mechanisms put in place to protect health facilities has become inept. We call on the international community to place pressure on the governments and leaders responsible and for international humanitarian actors to hold all parties accountable for their actions. The brazenness of this attack comes days after OCHA published a campaign claiming that the world is watching the attacks in Syria and that civilians are not a target.

We will share more information as it becomes available and appreciate the support and solidarity of our followers and the international community.

Syrian Hospital Bombed for the second time in 15 months as attacks on civilians in Idlib Escalate

The Kofr Nobol hospital in Idlib, Syria came under sustained attack today, suffering at least six direct aerial hits at 17.25 local time, reports the British NGO Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD) which operates the facility. There have been at least two deaths and the hospital has sustained significant damage.

The hospital serves over one million people in the Idlib province of Syria, providing essential services including surgical and reproductive health services for a population impacted by war. The hospital, the only surgical hospital in a 50km radius, was operating in a below ground ‘safe underground space/cave’ as the four story above ground hospital was completely destroyed in intense air strikes in February 2018.

“We are stunned and devastated for our team on the ground and the population who rely on this hospital” says Fadi Al-Dairi, Syria Country Director. “To be attacked twice in just over a year is incomprehensible. On both occasions the hospital was deconflicted with all parties to the conflict, meaning it has been identified as a humanitarian entity and so should be excluded as a military target”.

“Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a violation of international humanitarian law and human rights. The cynicism involved in launching this attack on the first day of our blessed month of Ramadan is beyond words. We ask ourselves what more suffering the population of Syria needs to endure before the world takes action. We rebuilt the hospital after the attack last year. We will rebuild again. Nothing will stop us providing essential medical services to the civilian population of Idlib who have already suffered so much during the past eight years of war.”

For footage of the attacks and the aftermath see here.

A life shattered in a second

 “I am blessed with three children. I worked and I never asked for help from anyone”. Life was good for Abdul Razzaq, a 34 year old man from the Tishreen neighbourhood in Damascus, where he was working in a small supermarket to support his family.

That changed in an instant in 2012 when a stray bullet from fighting that had come to his neighbourhood hit him in the lower spine. He was rushed unconscious to the nearest medical centre where he woke up and realised he had lost sensation in both legs.

“My body was aching all over, except my legs. I asked those around me what had happened to my legs, but there was no answer. I tried to move them but in vain. I then realised that I had been paralysed.” In addition to his paraplegia, Abdul Razzaq also had an intestinal perforation.

After many hospital visits the intestinal perforation was fixed by surgery that resulted in a colostomy and a catheter. As a result, he now needs constant colostomy bags, urinary catheters and urine drainage bags. In 2013 his poor health forced him to leave his home and move with his family to Northern Syria to continue medical treatment.

Despite having medical treatment, moving away from his extended family and support network meant that he didn’t have a carer to meet his daily needs and he developed pressure sores on his back and feet and he was unable to afford his essential medical supplies such as antiseptic liquid for wound dressing, urinary catheters and colostomy bags.

A team from HIHFAD came to check on Abdul Razzaq’s condition. Thanks to support from Welland Medical the team were able to provide the colostomy bags that he needs on a daily basis.

Abdul Razzaq tells us that he was so relieved to receive these medical consumables. “Inshallah, now I can go out to find a job and work, so I will not be a burden”, he says smiling. “Maybe I will get the money to buy an electric wheelchair so I can go out and feel the sun on my face”.

Planning for how we can continue to support our chosen charities in 2019 is already underway and we look forward to sharing updates with you on this during the year.

Dignity in the midst of war

The horrors of war are etched into the lines on the face of Haji Abdulkarim Mohammad Ali, a 67-year-old philosophy teacher and school principal from the town of Dara Azza, Aleppo. When war came, he lost his job and one of his daughters and her child returned to live with him when her husband was killed in fighting as they tried to flee Aleppo.

A diabetic for 22 years with stress-related eye problems, Abdulkarim’s already poor health deteriorated in 2017 as he began to experience digestive issues. Medical tests revealed a malignant tumour in his rectum. Abdulkarim was fortunate to have surgery and miraculously, despite a 5% success rate for the operation, the tumour was successfully removed and Abdulkarim has been declared cancer free.

“It was a weight off my shoulders”, he said. However, his problems were not over, as he has to use colostomy bags on a daily basis. His poor health and lack of resources for the family meant he was not able to source or buy the bags he needed.

Fortunately, the HIHFAD team, with generous support from Welland Medical, were able to perform a check up on Abdulkarim’s health and provide the colostomy bags he needs daily.

Abdulkarim expressed his happiness at the support he has received from the team and for the much-needed medical supplies.