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Hospitals in northern Syria overwhelmed by injured people, with huge need for emergency rehabilitation care

Press Release | London, 9th February 2022, 17:00 GMT

As the number of casualties continues to rise from the two catastrophic earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria earlier this week, Humanity & Inclusion (HI)’s teams in northern Syria are receiving huge numbers of people with severe injuries. There is an urgent need for rehabilitation services to prevent injuries from becoming permanent disabilities.

Reports estimate that the death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at more than 17,000 people, with more than 63,000 injured. With many still trapped beneath the rubble, the figures will rise further.

“Rehabilitation is essential because it helps a person regain mobility, avoid complications and permanent disabilities,” says Myriam Abord-Hugon, HI's Syria programme director.

“Humanity & Inclusion teams are able to provide immediate rehabilitation care for hospitalised patients and long-term follow-up for patients with multiple or complex injuries. Our specialists are based in hospitals, but our teams also work in mobile units targeting communities and vulnerable groups who cannot access health services. These mobile units provide outpatient care. We also provide mobility devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers for injured or disabled people."

The situation in northern Syria was already disastrous. As a result of the 12-year war, many hospitals and health centres have been destroyed or damaged by violence and bombing. Healthcare services are unable to cope with this new influx of patients. Hospitals are overwhelmed, people are in shock and temperatures are freezing.

The most common injuries seen after an earthquake are fractures, amputations, open wounds and crush injuries. Survivors also suffer from psychological trauma, stress and anxiety.

Amir is the director of an HI partner hospital providing orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery in Idlib, Syria, near the Turkish border. They received 680 injured people in 3 days. All of them will need rehabilitation.

“We have received 680 patients and performed 150 surgeries in the past three days. The entire 150-member staff has been mobilized since Monday to handle the emergency caused by the earthquake.”

“The hospital is crowded with patients of all ages: children, women, men… They are all suffering from crush syndrome, amputation, broken bones, damaged muscles and tissues and other injuries caused by falling walls.”

“Yesterday, rescue teams had to amputate the leg of a 13-year-old girl who had been trapped for 20 hours in the rubble. It was impossible to remove her from the rubble as she was stuck under a wall. They had to amputate her leg on the spot.”
“All the patients we have treated since Monday will need long-term rehabilitation, some of them will require prosthetics or orthotics.”

“For example, we have many patients with external fixators; they will need long-term follow-up and rehabilitation in order to avoid permanent disability. People with damaged tissue or muscles or open fractures are very long to cure and the risk of infection is very high.”

“Most of the people are in shock. Some of them remain silent when you talk to them - they are unable to answer anything. Some are disoriented or very stressed.”

“My teams are also exhausted. I have an experience in war emergencies, and an earthquake is perhaps more terrifying than air raids. It lasts longer. An airstrike and the explosion just last for one or 2 seconds, you are dead or you are alive. The earthquake Monday it was more than one minute. It was really frightening.”

“My experience of war helps me to cope with the current situation.”


HI’s spokespeople are available for interview.

  • George Graham, HI UK’s Chief Executive
  • Myriam Abord Hugon, HI Syria Programme Director
  • Saovany Lavigne, HI Area Coordinator, Syria Programme

For interviews, please contact Rand Odeh, UK Media Officer on +44 (0)7535 024 895 or [email protected]

Humanity & Inclusion has launched an Emergency Appeal to support injured and disabled people affected by the earthquake:

HI’s activities in Syria

Humanity & Inclusion (HI) currently has a total of 200 staff and partners in northern Syria. Among them, 15 HI rehabilitation specialists and 30 from our partners have already started responding to the emergency, as well as 17 partners specialised in prosthetics and orthotics. HI and partners also have more than 50 mental health and psychosocial support specialists ready to support survivors. The size of the teams will increase in the coming days.

HI has been present in the region since 2012. In May 2012, HI launched its response to the Syrian crisis by initiating operations in neighbouring countries - Lebanon and Jordan. The organisation then developed activities in Syria from November 2012.

Today, HI’s team in northern Syria carries out physical rehabilitation activities as well as psychosocial support to disabled and injured people. These activities include the provision of mobility aids and fitting services (prosthetics and orthotics).

HI also conducts demining operations and manages risk awareness campaigns among the population to prevent accidents caused by explosive remnants of war.

Contact our
UK Press Team

Marlène Manning, Media Officer
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +44 (0)7934 60 29 61
Tel.: +44 (0)870 774 3737