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White Helmets Launches Project to Restore Medical Facilities in Northwestern Syria

Over the past 13 years, the Syrian regime and Russia have systematically targeted medical facilities, undermining medical services in northwestern Syria. The devastating earthquake of February 6, 2023 further damaged the infrastructure, intensifying the need for projects and initiatives to support the healthcare sector.

The White Helmets has launched a project to restore and rehabilitate more than 15 medical facilities in northwestern Syria. These facilities include hospitals, primary healthcare centers, and Women and Family Health Centers in Idlib and Aleppo. These facilities had previously been bombed in attacks and further damaged by the devastating earthquake that struck the region last year.

The restoration and rehabilitation work is being carried out in coordination and cooperation with the Directorate of Health and the partners operating these medical facilities. This effort is governed by a memorandum of understanding between The White Helmets and the medical organizations involved in the project. The aim is to ensure continuous coordination and cooperation to provide comprehensive services to civilians.

This initiative is crucial as more than 4 million civilians in northwestern Syria are living under challenging conditions with ongoing and continuous attacks by Syrian regime forces and Russia, weak infrastructure, and a significant decline in life-saving humanitarian aid.

In this phase, the project includes the following facilities:

  • Al-Qaniya Hospital in western rural Idlib
  • The healthcare center in Harbnush
  • The specialized surgical hospital and thalassemia healthcare center in Idlib city
  • The healthcare center in Bardaqli
  • Al-Hidaya Hospital in Qah
  • Harim General Hospital
  • The healthcare center in Al-Janudiyah
  • Al-Andalus Hospital in Batabu
  • Al-Amal Hospital in Salqin
  • Ain Al-Bayda Hospital
  • The healthcare center in Kherbet Al-Joz
  • The healthcare center in Aqrabat
  • The Women and Family Health Center in Ariha
  • The Women and Family Health Centerr in Sharran, northern Aleppo

The plan is to later expand the work to include additional medical facilities in the rural areas of Idlib and Aleppo.

Implementation Responsibility

The White Helmets is solely responsible for executing 100% of the rehabilitation and restoration work of the medical facilities, overseen by a team of engineers as part of the Community Resilience Enhancement Program.

Rehabilitation and Restoration Works include:

  • Removal of damaged and unstable parts
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Insulation
  • Painting
  • Water and sewage network installation
  • Supply and installation of water tanks
  • Plastering works
  • Ceramic tile installation
  • Installation of doors and windows
  • Ironwork
  • Paving (interlocking)
  • Tile installation
  • Stone masonry
  • Tyrolean finish
  • Installation of metal canopies and provision of fully equipped prefabricated rooms
  • Rehabilitation of solar power systems
  • Installation of energy-efficient bulbs
  • Replacement of electrical networks with distribution panels
  • Provision and installation of vertical water coolers

Project Significance

Strengthening and reinforcing existing vital medical facilities is crucial for enhancing their resilience against the devastating impacts of the February 2023 earthquake and years of direct targeting by Syrian regime and Russian forces, particularly on healthcare facilities. This intervention significantly ensures the safe continuity of these facilities, especially amidst increasing pressure on the fragile healthcare system and the lack of sustainable support for this sector.

The significance of this project lies in supporting and refurbishing vital medical facilities to:

  • Ensure safe access for all community members, including those with special needs.
  • Renovate and renew medical facilities to expand service availability and ensure privacy for beneficiaries.
  • Contribute to integrated service delivery by alleviating financial burdens on medical facility operators, thereby enhancing the quantity and quality of medical services provided.

In order to support the healthcare system in northwestern Syria, earlier this year, The White Helmets formed an operational alliance with the Al-Ameen for Humanitarian Support Organization. The alliance aims to coordinate efforts and collaborate to enhance humanitarian response and achieve better outcomes through joint projects. The alliance began by constructing and equipping a center for advanced radiation therapy and tumor diagnosis. It also involves establishing and operating multiple healthcare facilities and providing operational and management support for struggling healthcare facilities, including hospitals, primary healthcare centers, emergency centers, dialysis centers, physiotherapy centers, and prosthetic limb centers. These initiatives will be implemented through the alliance.

Additionally, the alliance is involved in building a cancer treatment center as part of a project to establish SAMS Medical City. This is being carried out through the operational alliance between the The White Helmets, the Syrian American Medical Society, and the Syrian Forum.

The White Helmets is committed to supporting infrastructure and the medical sector, improving access to medical services through coordination and cooperation with humanitarian organizations to implement high-quality joint projects across various vital sectors.

Over the years, medical facilities have frequently been targeted by Syrian regime and Russian attacks, serving as testing grounds for Russia's highly destructive weapons. These attacks have rendered many hospitals non-operational and caused significant damage to many others, compounded by the devastating earthquake. Additionally, the Syrian regime and Russia have denied the population their basic rights to adequate healthcare and other life-supporting rights by obstructing the entry of aid. These actions constitute a blatant violation of all principles of human rights, the rights of humanitarian workers, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.

From 2011 to February 2023, the Syrian regime and Russia conducted more than 570 attacks on healthcare facilities and other establishments providing medical services. During this period, over 930 doctors and humanitarian workers were killed in these attacks

More than 5.1 million civilians are living in northwestern Syria, facing a significant decline in healthcare support from aid organizations, exacerbating the challenges of life, particularly for residents of displacement camps living with fragile infrastructure and high population density that increases the spread of diseases and epidemics. It is crucial to ensure these civilians' right to healthcare and to stop the ongoing attacks led by the Syrian regime and its allies. Additionally, it is essential to implement Resolution 2254, establish mechanisms to hold the Syrian regime and Russia accountable for besieging, killing, and displacing Syrians, and provide humanitarian support to those in need.

The Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) is undertaking several projects aimed at rebuilding essential facilities, rehabilitating roads, and improving water and sewage networks. These initiatives are designed to bolster community resilience in the face of ongoing attacks in order to create a better future for a population that has endured over 13 years of continuous war.

However, these projects offer only partial solutions to the humanitarian crisis, reflected by the absence of a political resolution and the international community's failure to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The focus has primarily been on mitigating some catastrophic consequences of displacement rather than addressing the root causes. It is crucial to hold the Syrian regime accountable for its crimes, ensure the return of forcibly displaced individuals to their homes, and achieve justice for Syrians.