Collapsed health care system may be biggest threat to Syrians

Barbara Slavin writes: More Syrians have died from lack of adequate medical care than from actual combat as the war grinds on into its fourth year, according to Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union’s commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response.

In an interview with Al-Monitor on April 11 in Washington, where she attended a coordination meeting at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) with other groups struggling to keep up with the spreading humanitarian consequences of the Syrian crisis, Georgieva said that “over 200,000 people have died because treatment is not available anymore in the collapsed health system of Syria.”

While Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has consolidated control over a significant part of territory, the country’s economy has fallen apart, the European commissioner said, and nearly half the population — almost 10 million people — need assistance.

Increasingly, aid workers are reporting cases of malnutrition and starvation, which make weakened populations even more vulnerable to diseases such as measles, Georgieva said. She said she recently visited the northern Kurdish section of Iraq, which is now home to some 230,000 Syrian refugees.

“A large proportion of them flee not because of the fighting,” she said, “but because their children are starving and they cannot access very basic necessities.” [Continue reading…]

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