Earthquakes: North-west Syria: Flash Update No. 14 (as of 28 February 2023)

Health Protection

Key figures in north-west Syria


4,500+ Deaths due to earthquakes


8,700+ Injuries due to earthquakes


10,000+ Partially or fully damaged buildings


50,000+ Suspected cholera cases


“I buried them and went back to work.”


Abdul Al-Basit Khalil, an anesthetist at the Harim General Hospital, lost his wife and daughter to the earthquakes. He was on call at the time, tending to patients, when the walls suddenly shook without any warning.

His first instinct was to run and check his nearby home. But by the time he got there, the building was no longer recognizable.


“It is a difficult feeling when your family is under the rubble yet you cannot do anything about it,” he said.

Abdul Al-Basit recalled going back to work immediately as the hospital was quickly flooded with patients injured by the earthquakes. He was hopeful that two of the incoming cases were his wife and daughter but they never showed up.


Three days later, a bulldozer came to his neighborhood and recovered the bodies of his loved ones from the pile of debris of what was once their home.


“I buried them and I went back to work at the hospital,” he shared. “I could not save my family, but there are still many people whose lives are in danger and they need our help.”


A crisis after crisis


Three weeks in since the earthquakes first struck, health workers in north-west Syria are working around the clock to save lives. Abdul Al-Basit Khalil was on duty at the same hospital when a UN interagency delegation visited Harim in the Idleb governorate for the first time on 21 February.


The impacts of the earthquakes – which struck the region on February 6 and February 20 – have compounded humanitarian needs in north-west Syria, a region where millions of people have endured a crisis after crisis for more than a decade.


The health situation is particularly dire, overstretched by COVID-19 and an ongoing cholera crisis, where at least 55 health facilities have been damaged by the earthquakes. Over 110 health facilities today are in need of fuel or medicines. The closure of the Türkiye-Syria borders for the transfer of medical cases further adds to the burden. Prior to the earthquakes, as many as 30 cases crossed in a day. Partners reported that procurement of medical supplies is increasingly challenging and patients with complications, such as cancer and kidney issues, are left with little to no option for treatment.



Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs