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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 20 October 2021

Five charity workers released after five months in captivity in Syria

In Aleppo 40 doctors are left to treat 2.5 million people. Before the war, there were 2,000.

The city of Aleppo
The city of Aleppo
Image: AP/Press Association Images

HEALTH CHARITY MEDECINS Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has confirmed that its five staff held in Syria have been safely released.

Five MSF staff were taken by an armed group in northern Syria, where they were working in an MSF-run hospital, in January.

The abduction forced a hospital, which had been used to provide essential healthcare to people affected by the conflict, to close.

Three of the MSF workers were released on 4 April, and two returned yesterday and are on their way to be reunited with their friends and families.

“The relief of seeing our colleagues return safely is mixed with anger in the face of this cynical act that has cut off an already war ravaged population from desperately needed assistance,” says Joanne Liu, MSF International President.

The direct consequence of taking humanitarian staff is a reduction in lifesaving aid. The long-term victims of this abduction are the Syrian population. Some 150,000 people in the Jabal Akkrad region are now deprived of MSF’s medical care, while living in a war zone.

In 2013, MSF medical staff in three facilities performed 521 surgical operations, many for trauma wounds, 36,294 medical consultations, and safe hospital deliveries for more than 400 mothers. Countrywide, they carry out 7,000 surgeries a year.

In Aleppo 40 doctors are left to treat 2.5 million people. Before the war, there were 2,000.

Out of respect for their privacy of the five, MSF is not disclosing the identities of the five.

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