29 December 2023

Humanitarian summary of 2023

Humanitarian workers will remember 2023 primarily because of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey and the disastrous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. But there are equally severe crises that do not make headlines. An example is the situation in Ethiopia: the war in Ethiopia that ended last year is definitely the bloodiest war in recent years, with several times more civilians killed than in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip combined. Ethiopian mothers and children are helped by the Polish Medical Mission, which continues to help malnourished newborns in the hospital in Wolisso.

Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

On February 6, 2023, the earth shook in Turkey and Syria. It was one of the most tragic earthquakes in recent years: almost 60,000 people died. Help for victims was particularly difficult in Syria, where international rescue teams were not allowed. The disaster also affected people there who had been suffering from the endless war in their country for 12 years. Syria was therefore much less prepared for an earthquake than neighboring Turkey.
  • To this day, we help Syrians who were injured in the earthquake - comments Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart from the Polish Medical Mission - Recently, teenage Hamza, who lost a leg as a result of injuries after the disaster, received prostheses. We also provide prostheses to many people who have been harmed by the ongoing hostilities there.

Gaza Strip

Warfare was also the reason for the second high-profile crisis of 2023. The latest installment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began on October 7 with Hamas attacks, which resulted in the death of approximately 1,400 Israelis and the kidnapping of 242 people. The retaliatory military actions of the Israeli army and the blockade of the Gaza Strip brought more victims, this time on the Palestinian side: the Gaza Ministry of Health estimates that over 20,000 people have already been killed, 75% of them women and children. Most Gazans have had to leave their homes, and access to medical aid, food and water is very limited.
  • We also cannot forget about the war in Ukraine, where fighting lasted all year long and the help of humanitarian organizations was needed - reminds Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart - And yet there are also crises that have never been in the center of attention in our country, such as the one in Ethiopia .

Famine in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. According to UN data, over 24 million people need help there - most of them are facing the threat of malnutrition and hunger. Hunger could have caused the death of up to half of the victims of the civil war that tore the country apart from the end of 2020 to the end of 2022. According to estimates by researchers at the University of Ghent, based, among others, on based on satellite images of farmlands and reports of civilian massacres, the total number of civilian victims of the conflict may reach up to 600,000 people. Droughts, which are further deepening the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, are, according to researchers, clearly linked to climate warming. According to one study, their frequency - compared to the times when human activity did not directly affect the climate - increased by up to 100 times.
  • We support a specific hospital in the city of Wolisso, where 850 newborns were provided with medical care and nutrition this year - adds Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart - We also buy life-saving equipment for the youngest, such as oxygen concentrators and incubators.
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