Experiences of evacuations from eastern Aleppo, Syria

Syria Health Cluster

Ambulances were staged at the transfer point and waited to receive evacuees from eastern Aleppo

Intensified fighting in eastern Aleppo starting in July 2016 resulted in thousands of people injured and killed, and has deprived the civilian population of essential services, including health care. In September 2016, the humanitarian community began negotiations with parties to the conflict to obtain approval for a medical evacuation and assistance plan that would allow the delivery of medicines into the city and the evacuation of civilians.

Negotiations with parties to the conflict continued for 3 months, with many setbacks due to lack of security guarantees or lack of access grants. Finally, on 13 December, the plan to evacuate civilians from east Aleppo was announced. The first evacuations of civilians from besieged neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo took place 15 December.

From 15–23 December more than 36 086 people, including men, women, children, the disabled, and the elderly, were successfully evacuated from eastern Aleppo. UN teams were present to observe and monitor the evacuations. An additional 80 158 people were internally displaced to government-controlled areas in and around Aleppo city.

WHO supported the implementation of the medical evacuation plan of critically ill and injured residents and accompanying family members from eastern Aleppo.

WHO and Turkey health cluster partners mobilized more than 156 ambulances for patient transportation and medical triage was established at collection points in western rural Aleppo.

In total, 811 patients were referred to hospitals in west Aleppo and Idleb, including 100 women and almost 150 children. Of those, nearly 100 patients requiring specialized care were transported to hospitals in Turkey. The other patients were referred to 8 hospitals in western rural Aleppo and Idleb.

“Despite the operational and political challenges, as we planned for the evacuations, the progress made was remarkable and reflects the professionalism and dedication of our teams. This was yet another example of solidarity and outstanding commitment to the humanitarian cause,” said Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative in Turkey.

Follow the link below to read aid workers’ first-hand experiences of evacuations from eastern Aleppo.