Syria: "It was a difficult, bloody day."

MSF project coordinator Cristian Reynders and a frontline surgeon share their personal reflections on indiscriminate attacks in Idlib, Syria.

27 Feb 20

Reflections from Cristian Reynders, MSF Project Coordinator for northwestern Syria, coordination office outside of Syria.

Just try to picture: you’re end of the afternoon, beginning of the evening. You are in a place where you feel safe; in your house, or in a room. You are preparing your meal, having a tea, watching the kids playing or playing with the kids.  And then everything is engulfed in flames. Under a huge loud noise. And everything goes crumbling. And that’s what happened without any warning.

"They are trapped and there is nowhere to be safe. so there is a level of despair of the population feeling completely abandoned"

Cristian reyndersproject coordinator

And now picture this also: You are a doctor. You are already not equipped. Your hospital is not in good shape. And now you have tens of people, wounded, bleeding, with limbs falling, legs amputated, arms amputated, and you need to save them, sometimes without anesthesia.

And you are responding to this, knowing that maybe the next bomb will be for you. And that you might be the next one in flames, while you are performing your duty as a doctor.

And they were only trying to stay fit and thinking how can we… what can we do to save these people that minutes ago were just preparing for their evening, having a tea, and trying to survive.

We talk about how much? More that 150 injured, at once. Phew!

So… that’s the horror of this story. You have 3 million people today that are trapped. They are trapped and there is nowhere to be safe. So there is a level of despair of the population, feeling completely abandoned.

In a humanitarian crisis we know how to respond as an organization. No matter how big is the crisis, we know.

MSF supported surgeon northwestern Syria

In an extraordinary evening and night of medical emergency, three MSF-supported hospitals in the area were inundated with urgent influxes of patients.

One of the surgeons in Idlib Surgical Hospital told the MSF support team: "I am a surgeon at Idlib surgical hospital, we received 30 injuries as well as some killed. Some of the injuries were amputations, neurological injuries, and many other injuries 50 percent were children and women. It was a hysterical situation in the city. Along with the sound of bombings and the sound of sirens, people had panic attacks. It was a difficult, bloody day.”

Indiscriminate bombing and shelling

The Syrian conflict began in 2011 and has created the biggest displacement crisis since the Second World War, it is now in its ninth year.  Indiscriminate bombing and shelling on civilian areas have become a hallmark of the Syrian war, and the Syrian government must undertake to abide by International Humanitarian Law and respect the rules of war.