The life of Amputees in Syria

The life of Amputees in Syria
Written By : Om Amran
Interview and Edited by: Joanne Roberts

In 2014 the Syrian Network for Human Rights stated that no less than 1.1 million people have been injured in Syria since March 2011. At least 45% of them are women and children, and 10 – 15% of these cases have turned into permanent disability or amputations.

Today we speak with a Syrian lady Om Amran who has witnessed firsthand the effects of these disabilities and amputations on her own people and their children and what their future holds.

She has seen the effects on the households of Syria. She has seen the effects on the working men of the family and the husbands to many. She has seen the effects on the women who are trying to care for the house and their children. She has seen the effects on the innocent children and
babies. She has also seen the effects on the one million Syrian orphans and the approximate 6 million IDP's.

Below is a list of 10 questions I put to her:-

1. When did you first notice that Syrian people and their children were losing their limbs as a result of the conflict?

The regime could not suppress the peaceful demonstrations at first. So he
resorted to using bullets and guns and weapons to suppress the protesters. Then he began to bomb cities with missiles and mortars. This all happened in late 2011 and the beginning of 2012.

In 2015 the Russians came to support the regime. They started using warplanes to bomb cities and villages. All those bombs injured many civilians, among them were women and children.

In fact I saw two children who had lost their limbs, one of them was a girl
who lost her hand when she was only one year of age.

2. What is the most common cause of these injuries?

The conflict began to intensify in Syria mid - 2012 and the bombing increased. The most common cause of all the injuries was the mortars and warplanes

3. What are the most common injuries caused in this conflict?

The civilians had got many injuries like ( burns, deformities....etc), but the loss of limbs was the most difficult injury because those people become disabled and in need of help.

4. Are there working hospitals to treat these amputees and disabled people and their children?

The regime destroyed the infrastructure such as schools and hospitals in areas beyond his control which meant hospitals stopped working. Also he imposed blockades on these areas and prevented the entry of medicine, food or relief organizations to help. In fact there were field hospitals in those areas but those hospitals were small, had no medical equipment and
there were no doctors or specialists to deal with tough cases. Therefore the doctors in the hospitals had to resort to the cutting of limbs. There was no means of saving them.

5. We all know that Assad has targeted Doctors and Medical Personnel in this conflict. Are there any specialised Doctors left to treat these injuries?

The regime arrested many doctors who were opponents and many doctors went outside the country. The doctors who stayed and were opposed to the regime went to areas beyond his control and worked in the field hospitals. There are only a few doctors in the field hospitals so they cannot handle all the injuries.

6. What if any follow up care do they receive?

The people who lost their limbs didn't receive any medical care. If they had received the required care they would not have lost their limbs so their health status would be better.

7. Is there anybody or agency keeping track of how many amputees there are and how many amputee victims have later died from their injuries?

In fact I don't have enough information about this, so I will talk about the area that I am in. My area is beyond the regime control. Here there are many people who lost their limbs both civilians and military opponents. There is nobody or any agency or organization trying to count those people and to provide help.

Recently some organization emerged that tried to establish centres for psychological support and to provide some of the equipment they need but with little material support it doesn't cover all of what the people who lost their limbs need. I don't know if any one of these people died during the conflict but I do know how much their lives are now miserable and they are like dead people.

8. Are artificial prosthetics readily available in Syria? Do they have to travel abroad for treatment? Who covers the medical Expenses?

In areas beyond the control of the regime the people who lost their limbs cannot get artificial prosthetics. This is because the artificial prosthetics are not available in these areas. In addition if it was available the prices would be very high.

The artificial prosthetics may be available in areas under control of the regime but often people who lost their limbs don't go to those areas. They may be exposed to arrest by the regime. They couldn't travel abroad because they need a lot of money and it's not easy to go abroad.

9. What sort of stigma surrounds disabled people and amputees in Syria? Does it make marriage difficult? Raising Children Difficult? Working Difficult?

People sympathise with them but cannot offer them any support.

One day the children who have lost their limbs will grow up and then they will become unhappy because of their physical disability and they may have bad psychological state. They will feel frustrated and despair. They maybe couldn't follow up on their studies.

Of course the young people who lost their limbs can't find a job easily because they need a job that suits them and their capabilities. There is less opportunities to marry. Their families are suffering too. Increased financial pressure and workload on others in the household

10. What sort of future do these children and these people have ahead of them? What is life like in Syria for the average person with a disability?

The topic of people who lost their limbs during the war in Syria is a large
subject and important one and those people need true aid especially the
children.

These are some suggestions to help them:

* We should count them

* Centres must be set up to give them psychological support.

* Must be training and rehabilitation for them

* Find a job that suits them

* The humanitarian organizations must focus on what they need

* Insurance and medical treatment

* Help for their families

* Private schools for the children

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