Hello, my name is Ahed Festuk.
I'm from Aleppo. This is my story.

From 2011, I organized and participated in peaceful demonstrations in Syria. As an activist, I demonstrated for political freedoms like freedom of speech and assembly, a free press, suffrage, and more.

Women were not immune to the systematic violence by the Syrian government. Since 2011, the government intelligence forces arbitrarily detained more than 20,000 women and girls. In the prisons, men and women were subjected to the same interrogation methods and suffered the same torture and abuse.

Despite these known risks, I took regularly took part in the demonstrations. At one demonstration, I was shot in the arm by regime forces. However, as an activist, I could not seek treatment at local hospitals without risking retaliation from the government's security apparatus that were imbedded in the healthcare system.

In 2012, I started to work at the Dar al-Shifa field hospital in Aleppo as a medic. My family fled to Turkey, but I chose to remain to work at the hospital.

"I had the ability to help people, to help injured people at that time. When duty calls you to help an injured person, you stop thinking about yourself, and you get used to seeing the blood." 

The Syrian government bombed the hospital eight times between August and November 2012. The Syrian government news agency, SANA, claimed the hospital was a terrorist hideout. The final attack in November 2012 killed at least 15 people, including four members of the volunteer medical staff. 

The hospital's senior doctor, Dr. Osman al-Haj Osman, said that the reason the Syrian government forces aimed for the hospital is that “when you kill one doctor, it is better than killing 1,000 fighters.”

Together, with the doctors and other volunteer medical staff, we treated on average between 100 to 150 patients per day. Roughly 80 per cent of the hospital patients were civilians, injured by government forces during the daily attacks. The other patients included Free Syrian Army soldiers, and, more rarely, Syrian Army soldiers.

The hospital operated without adequate medical staff in specialized fields, like surgery. The staff provided life-saving emergency medical care, but because the hospital was under-staffed and in an unsafe area, patients were transferred out, often by taxi, to hospitals in the countryside or in government areas.

The story of Dar al-Shifa hospital in Aleppo was not unique. The Syrian government weaponized healthcare, systematically targeting hospitals and killing medical staff as their war strategy.

Through the end of 2017, Syrian government forces killed almost 900 medical personnel and attacked healthcare facilities almost 500 times, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical in war zones.

In 2013, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, which monitors human rights in Syria, concluded in its report that “the denial of medical care is a distinct and chilling reality of the war in Syria.” The panel said pro-government forces carried out such attacks as a matter of policy.

 

Thousands of physicians once worked in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city before the war, but the attacks resulted in an exodus of 95 per cent of them to neighbor countries and abroad. In Syria, there are two doctors and four nurses and midwives for every ten thousand people, while the global average is thirteen doctors and twenty-eight nurses.

 

Civilians, like myself at Dar al-Shifa hospital, took the place medical professionals in Syria.

Seven years of war devastated most of Syria’s hospitals, along with the healthcare system. Despite this, doctors and Syrian N.G.O.s built a network of underground hospitals throughout country to continue giving care. They were driven underground because attacks on hospitals became routine.
 

Hospitals adopted complex code-name systems to shield their coordinates. Some medical staff moved entire hospitals underground into basements and caves to keep them safe from airstrikes. Other aboveground hospitals added layers of fortifications, emptying floors at the top of the building to absorb attacks. They barricaded windows with sandbags and erected concrete fortifications around the perimeter of facilitates to protect from bombs.

But the problems for hospitals did not stop at medical staffing and security. Access to medical supplies, like consumables, medicines, and equipment, inhibited hospitals to provide care. Moreover, some hospitals resorted to crowdfunding in order to continue running.

In 2016, I left Syria and applied for asylum in the United States. I've been able to continue my humanitarian and advocacy work at Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees.

Hi, my name is Bennett Gross.
I run Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees.

ADVOCACY
Advocate for sensible and human refugee policies.
PUBLIC OUTREACH
Cultivate partnerships and raise awareness of the facts, the needs, and the opportunities for positive action.
HUMANITARIAN AID
Deliver humanitarian aid and raise funds for direct services on the ground.

In the past two years, we have delivered more than a $120 million of relief supplies inside Syria and refugee camps along the border.

To do this, we do what others can't.

MFA and its partners get the right aid to the right place. MFA works closely with its trusted NGO partners on the ground in Syria to identify the precise relief needed.

MFA and its partner organizations then determine how to best fill the need. We coordinate the shipping to ensure the relief arrives intact to its intended recipients.

Partnering with Syrian NGOs to deliver the right aid to the right place. 

Harnessing MFA's network to collect relief supplies.

MFA and its partners have developed a broad network of organizations that donate the relief supplies that fill each container. The network includes Christians, Jews, Muslims and organizations that range from long-established relief organizations to local volunteer groups with access to needed supplies.

 

The supplies include food, clothing, medicines, medical supplies and equipment – and we’ve even shipped four ambulances.

$119 Million in Medicines
and Medical Supplies
Including antibiotics, bandages, wheelchairs, ultrasound machines, and ambulances.
$260,00 in Food
$1 Million in Clothing & Personal Care Items
Including flours, grains, preserves, canned foods, infant formula, and water purifiers.
Including winter clothing, shirts, shoes, soap, menstrual products, and diapers.

Reaching southwest Syria.

In 2016, MFA was able to dramatically increase the flow of relief to those trapped in the region. As the culmination of efforts it began in 2014, MFA was able to facilitate unprecedented partnerships between the Israeli government and Syrian NGOs. The result was a new channel of humanitarian relief through which containers of relief are shipped to Israeli ports, trucked by the the Israeli military to the Golan Heights — and delivered to MFA’s Syrian NGO partners for distribution to those in need in southwest Syria.

 

The supplies include food, clothing, medicines, medical supplies and equipment – and we’ve even shipped four ambulances.

It is important to emphasize that this is a Syrian-driven process, not directed by the Israelis, and although Israel provides the territorial link for the assistance to flow into Quneitra, it is the Syrians who make everything work on the ground. What is key in this region of Syria is the close coordination between the Syrians operating on the ground themselves once the assistance has safely been distributed from Israel into Quneitra and its surrounding areas. 

The conflict has destroyed the healthcare system in Syria. The impact of destruction continues, with many hospitals and clinics unable to provide anything but the most basic care to people with injuries and illnesses.

MFA and its partners work to supply hospitals in southern Syria with medicines, medical equipment and supplies. These supplies support makeshift field hospitals and mobile clinics.

The medical supplies include basic, life-saving medicines that ER nurses administer to patients needing emergency care, like antibiotics and local anesthetics. Other medicines from range from pain relievers and antidepressants, to blood pressure and heart medications.

We support hospitals to provide better care and 

help rebuild the healthcare infrastructure in Syria.

Emergency in southern Syria.

In June 2018, the Syrian government launched a new offensive to regain opposition-held areas in the south of the country. 

By July, the government continued its assault on the city of Daraa. More 160,000 people have fled their homes across southwestern Syria. With no shelter, running water or sanitary facilities, the situation continues to worsen for displaced people at the border. The border with Jordan remained sealed, leaving thousands of families stranded

 

By mid-July, the government took control of eastern rural Daraa, including the Nasib broder crossing with Jordan. This has caused some displaced people to return to Daraa, while others have moved towards the Israeli border. An estimated 235,500 people were  displaced across southwestern Syria— with 70 percent of them, around 160,000 people, located in Quneitra along the Israeli border.

During this time, MFA delivered 1,600 bags of powdered milk to the warehouse of its partner NGO in Syria. In addition, MFA delivered 2,280 bags of flour for the bakery in Quneitra. Another 35 pallets of medicines and medical supplies were sent to hospitals in southwestern Syria.

New opportunities in the

northwestern Syria.

The success of MFA's work in southern Syria has opened opportunities for MFA to dramatically increase its shipments into northwestern Syria. Idlib and the suburbs of Aleppo are home to 3.2 million people — including 1 million children. These already-overburdened communities are struggling to absorb the thousands who have fled the Assad regime’s attacks elsewhere in Syria. 

At the same time, MFA has also created opportunities in northeast Syria, where international relief has simply not met the intense needs of a vast population. MFA’s partners on the ground, including the U.S. military, all emphasize that thwarting the resurgence of extremist elements in the region requires humanitarian aid to restore the local infrastructure and support local communities. MFA is already sourcing the supplies deemed most crucial by U.S. forces, and is working with local partners to refine delivery locations, routes, logistics, and operational controls.

Expanding to northeast Syria.

Since 2014, various campaigns against ISIS have upended the geopolitical balance in the northeast. By 2018, with U.S. support, a Kurdish organization called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), militarily led People’s Protection Units (YPG), captured all but a sliver of what was once a swathe of ISIS-controlled Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river.

The lack of NGO and international aid in this area has left a massive need for basic humanitarian supplies. Such relief is seen as a particularly critical supplement to the U.S. military presence in order to ward off extremist elements in the region.

In the Jazira Region, Al-Hasakeh hosts almost 250 000 internally displaced people who fled intense fighting in the neighboring governorates of Ar-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The highly volatile situation has hampered humanitarian access to Al-Hasakeh and resulted in severe shortages of medicines and supplies. There are four main camps in Al-Hasakeh: Alhoul, Mabrouka, Norooz, and Roug. The needs of the camps are vast, including drinking water, food, health services and medicines.

An estimated 720,000 people live Deir ez-Zor governate with around 107,00 displaced people, often in vulnerable shelter types such as tents, collective centers, and unfinished buildings. Health was among the most commonly reported top priority needs across the area. Water quality issues—including bad smell, taste, and color— and water shortages have been reported.

MFA's unique Fund A Container program allows indiviudal and groups to pay the cost of shipping a container of life-saving humanitarian aid to those in need in Syria and track its progress from packing to its arrival in Syria.

From identifying the relief supplies, to packing boxes, arranging ocean freight, and delivering to places of need, the logistics of sending humanitarian aid to Syria is a complex process.

 

For just $6,500, you can help MFA and its partners pay for the shipment of a container of relief supplies to Syria.

 

Your container will have a tremendous impact. MFA's containers of relief have had an average value from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in food, clothing, medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment – far beyond your donation of $5,500 to help cover shipping expenses. 

Support
MFA has been able to do this vital work thanks to donor support.
MFA Network
MFA has been able to do this vital work thanks to donor support.
Shipping
MFA facilitates domestic and international shipping for timely and secure delivery of aid to Syria.
Syria
Syrian NGOs distribute the relief supplies to those in need.

Right now, MFA's work is focusing on the areas of Idlib and Aleppo. This area has a population of an estimated 4 million people, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria.

September - November 2018 Shipments

• 3 Containers of Food, Water Purifiers from Toronto

• 1 Container of Medical Equipment from Detroit

• 1 Container of Medical Equipment from Iowa

December 2018 Loading

• 1 Container of Medicines from Germany

• 1 Container of Medical Equipment from Iowa

• 1 Container of Food, Water Purifiers from Toronto

• 1 Container of Medicines from New York City

Multifaith Alliance 

6 East 43rd Street, Floor 22
New York, NY 10017

+1 917 810 2820

info@multifaithalliance.org

Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees is a project of the Tides Center 
© 2019 Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees | EIN 94-3213100