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International community has largely forgotten Syria: Dr Mandhari

8 Feb 2023

Muscat – Dr Ahmed al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, has called on the international community to acknowledge the ‘compounding’ crisis in Syria as more people need humanitarian assistance in the country today than at any time since the conflict in Syria began 12 years ago.

Speaking at the WHO’s 152nd Executive Board Session, Dr Mandhari expressed his deepest condolences to the people of Syria, adding, “we expect the death toll to increase in the coming days”.

Elaborating on the conflict in Syria, he said next month marks almost 12 years since the crisis began.

“Those needs of the Syrian people have soared further as a result following Monday’s earthquake. It has added yet another layer of complexity to the many challenges already facing the Syrian people.”

But despite facing multiple concurrent and compounding crises over recent years, the international community has largely forgotten Syria, he added. “Even as health and humanitarian needs increase, funding continues to decrease. It should not take a tragic event such as this crisis for us to turn our attention to Syria.”

He said that WHO’s priority now was to make sure that those who have been injured receive the life-saving care they need, as soon as possible, to prevent further loss of life and disability. “And that those who have lost their homes and livelihoods are not exposed to further public health risks.”

Dr Mandhari spoke in admiration of the dedicated Syrian health workforce “who are responding to yet another emergency. Despite overwhelming demands and limited resources, they remain as committed as always to saving lives”.

He said that WHO is there to support them “as we employ an all-modalities approach to access those in need”.

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