Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) MENA continues to monitor the ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the people of Syria. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Syria was on March 22. While the number of confirmed cases is lower than other countries in the region and throughout the world, given the tremendous suffering of the on-going conflict and its impact on the health care infrastructure of Syria, many fear undercounting and that many more will become affected or infected. After 10 years of conflict nearly 50% of the hospitals and health care infrastructure have been damaged.
For many years JRS has offered health care clinics in Syria. When the initial cases of COVID-19 began we decided to close our health clinic in Aleppo to reassess the situation. We needed to continue to accompany the people of Aleppo, but we did not want to be a gathering place that could spread infection – First, do no harm.
After one week of cleaning, training, and development of safe procedures, we reopened the clinic on April 1. It is now responding to the desperate need in Aleppo while providing for the safety of our staff and beneficiaries.
We are grateful to our staff who have demonstrated rapid ingenuity and deep concern for those we accompany. They are a clear example of the beauty of our shared humanity.
We long for a “new normal” after this pandemic where we respect the dignity of all in our common home.