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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
30 January 2013

Displaced themselves, UNRWA health-care providers in Syria
deliver emergency health care to internally displaced persons

30 January, Damascus - "We don't know what will happen tomorrow", said Dr. Husam Tibi, Chief of UNRWA's health programme in Syria, referring to the challenges that he faces in managing the 23 health centres that UNRWA operates to deliver emergency services to Palestine refugees.

To respond to the crisis in Syria, UNRWA has established temporary health points that offer services to Palestine refugees who are sheltering in UNRWA facilities. Health staff members assist thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in these facilities, including 78 pregnant women, 13 of whom are due to give birth soon. Since the start of the conflict, UNRWA has assisted with the birth of nine babies in facilities used as temporary shelters.

Dr. Tibi’s job is becoming increasingly difficult due to the effects of the continued violence on health centres, eight of which are temporarily closed due to the situation. He says that civil strife restricting access to health centres and hospitals and difficulties in procuring and transporting medical supplies are among the major obstacles to delivering life-saving health care.

UNRWA health-care providers continue the diligent work of delivering life-saving services to the Palestine refugees who need them despite having to cope with the difficult situation in Syria themselves. "Some of the health staff have also been displaced and are now sheltering in UNRWA facilities. Despite their growing problems, they continue to assist other IDPs, delivering services where needed", says Dr. Tibi.

He points to the example of two UNRWA nurses, who despite being themselves displaced as a result of the on-going civil strife, are currently assisting the 1,500 IDPs sheltered at the UNRWA Damascus Training Centre.

In spite of the difficulties caused by the on-going violence, Dr. Tibi says that UNRWA care providers “will continue to do their best to assist the most vulnerable Palestine refugees who desperately need emergency health care.”

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