The Order of Malta’s worldwide relief agency, Malteser International, has scaled up its humanitarian support in Syria, following an increase in airstrikes in the north-West. “We are currently witnessing an increase in airstrikes in the Idlib region, the likes of which we have not seen for four years,” says Lena Schellhammer, a spokesperson for Malteser International. “In the past few weeks, 43 hospitals, including pediatric hospitals, 24 schools, 20 waterworks, and other critical civilian infrastructure have been subjected to severe attacks. Those who are internally displaced and living in camps within their own country are especially affected by this new wave of violence. We are now distributing 30,000 hygiene kits to displaced individuals through our local partners,” Schellhammer explains.
These renewed attacks are also making the work of humanitarian aid staff more challenging. Some hospitals in north-west Syria have had to temporarily suspend operations or shut down completely. Moreover, in October alone, over 70 civilians lost their lives, including three humanitarian aid workers and 27 children. “Together with the local and international aid organizations operating in Syria, we call on the conflict parties to adhere to international law, protect the civilian population and civilian infrastructure, and grant secure access to humanitarian aid workers,” Schellhammer asserts.
For the past twelve years since the onset of the war in Syria, Malteser International has been providing life-saving emergency aid to the distressed people of Syria, particularly in the realm of medical care. Following a severe earthquake earlier this year, Malteser International has expanded its assistance further. In collaboration with local partner organizations on the ground, Malteser International manages and supports hospitals, basic health centers, and mobile medical teams. It also assists in the distribution of relief supplies such as blankets, mattresses, and hygiene items.