Samara's Aid: Helping Deir Ezzor, the forgotten city
Help support Al Rahmie hospital, opened by Samara’s Aid in the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. Al Rahmie provides essential medical services to residents and displaced people in the devastated city. Deir Ezzor now faces the bitter winter weather and disease outbreaks due to inadequate sanitary services.
Samara’s Aid began as a micro charity in 2014 providing assistance to underserved and ‘missed’ families affected by the civil conflict in Syria. The charity is proving nimble and adaptable to the rapidly changing situation. The rapid opening Al Rahmie hospital in a recently fought over area is one example. Another would be their developing work with orphanages, as well as projects supporting widows.
In Deir Ezor the Al Rahmie hospital is providing free urgent care, and saving lives. Tragically one third of their patients are children surviving amidst the damage and death. As winter draws in the rain is turning streets and ruins to mud worsening the problems in the city. Freezing temperatures are causing great suffering for everyone, especially those still living in improvised shelters. The threat of unexploded bombs or mines is always present, and yet as Samara says ‘The Syrian people are very resilient and their ability to pick up the pieces in such an awful environment is truly inspiring’.
The seventeen staff at the hospital are providing treatment to patients with a range of urgent problems that simply can’t wait, Samara reports. At the moment there is an outbreak of Hepatitis A in the city. This highly infectious disease can arise from drinking dirty water. Rat bites are also a major emergency issue because they are deep and invariably become severely infected. With these problems already evident in December, this will be a very hard winter for residents, despite the return of fairly reliable electricity.
Samara had been hoping to relocate the hospital because it’s in a heavily damaged building. This is proving difficult due to the few buildings that meet Al Rahmie’s growing need and also satisfy the ministry of health requirements. She said:
I had been hoping that we may be able to buy a new building for our hospital as the current building we are using is kindly donated to us but is not ideal for our needs in running a small hospital. Sadly so much is badly damaged or completely destroyed that our options have been limited.
Amazingly despite the poverty of the facilities the medics continue to run a laboratory and provide some surgery as required. Given that there is an ugly patched hole in the wall of the lab from a rocket strike, their ability to provide lifesaving lab tests is amazing.
There is no solution to disease and rats affecting Deir Ezzor, apart from fixing the water, sanitation, and environmental health issues. Samara notes that ‘Local capacity (in Deir Ezzor) is a struggle for most things. There is not a great deal of expertise in the area for many things’. This is unsurprising because massively damaged cities are really hard places to do that sort of work, and need engineering resources which are always hard to find. Samara’s Aid are in contact with partner charities, unfortunately ‘none of the water related options are clear cut right now’. Tragically the children of the city are suffering greatly too and make up about 30% of the hospital patients.
Deir Ezzor has faced a battering over the past years, and has been described as a ‘forgotten city’. The journey from Homs 370km to the south west is punctuated by more than 25 checkpoints, an indication of continuing concern about security. Reports from the INGO Action on Armed Violence and UNHCR indicate how complex the situation the Governate (region) is both in security and shelter for displaced people and residents. The local economy is beginning to recover and essential staple goods are becoming more available. Syria remains under international sanctions, and one of the sad and unjust consequences of these is the effects they have on individuals and on infrastructure challenges like rebuilding Deir Ezzor.
How to Help
Join in with The Christmas Appeal, make a real difference this Christmas. Donate at services, via church office or directly to Samara’s Aid. Donate at services, via church office or directly to Samara’s Aid