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Health Response to the Situation in Deir-ez-Zor Report of a WHO assessment

Large swathes of the northern Syrian governorate of Deir-ez-Zor have been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since mid-2014. On 5 September 2017, the Government of Syria (GoS) and allied forces broke ISIL’s three-year siege on the government-held parts of the governorate’s capital city, also called Deir-ez-Zor. ISIL is becoming increasingly isolated as the GoS and allied forces advance on several fronts towards ISIL-held territory in the governorate, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the US-led coalition, advance from the north. The intensity of clashes and airstrikes continues to result in civilian casualties, large numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs), and damaged or destroyed infrastructures including health care facilities.
In light of the increasing conflict and the rising health needs in the governorate, a WHO team comprising an external trauma care specialist, a WCO trauma specialist and other staff met with UN partners, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Damascus in early September 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the availability and accessibility of trauma and specialized care for wounded and critically ill patients in Deir-ez-Zor governorate. (Security constraints meant the team was not able to visit the governorate to assess the situation at first hand.)

The present report, based on information gathered during the meeting, describes:

  1. 1. The current health situation in Deir-ez-Zor (available health care services, geographical coverage and status of functionality of health care facilities).
  2. 2. Recommendations for optimal response modalities, including referral pathways for wounded and critically ill patients.

The main findings and recommendations from the Damascus meeting are summarized below:


  1. Health care services in Deir-ez-Zor have been severely disrupted due to ISIL’s long siege and the ongoing military campaign. This has resulted in massive population displacements and badly damaged health care facilities.
  2. Currently, Al-Assad hospital is the only working government hospital in the city of Deir-ez-Zor. The city can now be reached by road from Damascus.
  3. None of the four government hospitals in the southern cities of Deir-ez-Zor governorate is working.
  4. Injured civilians in the ISIL-controlled Al-Quesra area north of Deir-ez-Zor may need to be evacuated to either Al-Hassakeh, Qamishli or Ras el Ain.
  5. There are no agencies on the ground operating either directly or through national or international NGOs to support primary and secondary health care services.
  6. Although high numbers of trauma cases or patients requiring emergency health care are expected, there are no established modalities for triaging or treating wounded patients, and the resources to do so are almost non-existent

(more in the PDF)

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
World Health Organization
Original Publication Date: 
30 Сен 2017
Document type: 
Assessment Report
Needs Assessment
Syria: Crisis 2011-2022