Tuesday, Oct. 22, Portland, OR — Earlier this month, Turkey announced the start of military operations in Northeastern Syria. Since then, airstrikes, heavy artillery and fighting on the ground have killed more than 146 civilians and more than 160,000 people have been forced to flee, including more than 3,000 people since last week. The Medical Teams International Humanitarian Response team is currently on the ground in the region to assess where the needs are most urgent, and to identify how Medical Teams can respond.
There are grave concerns for civilians, as access to humanitarian aid, basic necessities and critical services are shut off. It is expected that some affected populations will move toward aid and stability in Northern Iraq – reports estimate that 250,000 could flee across the Syrian border into Iraq in the coming months. Health services in Iraq are already severely under equipped with 5.54 million people in need of health assistance.
Betsy Baldwin, Medical Teams International Humanitarian Response Team Director, describes the situation in Northeast Syria and Iraq: “I’m concerned that the levels of violence in Northeast Syria will result in a large number of people fleeing for their lives in search of safety and help. I’m on the ground in Iraq to understand the situation more and find opportunities for Medical Teams to provide health care.”
Throughout the Syrian crisis, Medical Teams has played a critical role in refugee healthcare in the Middle East, operating in Lebanon since 2013 and Turkey from 2017 to earlier this year.
The Humanitarian Response Team members have significant experience in Iraq as well as experience working in Syria during the recent 2011-19 Crisis. Baldwin served as the Iraq Response Director of Tearfund UK covering 2016-19 during the Mosul displacement crisis. As she is deployed to Iraq assessing the situation, Baldwin is available to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria.
About Medical Teams International
Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person— physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Because every person—no matter where they are or how desperate their situation—matters. Find Medical Teams International at medicalteams.org and on social media using @medicalteams.