Syria on brink of further disaster as COVID-19 cases escalate

  • COVID-19 cases have increased twenty fold in the past 3 months
  • Hospitals have been instructed to stop taking in COVID-19 patients
  • Funding desperately needed to increase testing and strengthen health system capacity

International aid agency, World Vision, today warned that thousands are at considerable risk as COVID -19 cases increase in Syria; a country already demolished by almost ten years of war. This warning came as the NGO launched a report that documents the first 100 days of its global response to COVID-19. 

“The spectre of COVID-19 is yet another devastating blow for children and their families in Syria, who have been through much heartache already. The official figures could be the tip of the iceberg because testing is so scarce. For those living in camps, it can be impossible to socially distance or to access clean water.” said Andrew Morley, President and CEO of World Vision International. 

Official figures show that cases have increased twenty fold in the past three months from 29 cases in May to 608 cases to date.

“We have already heard reports[1] that the increase in cases has overwhelmed the capacity of local hospitals, with the Ministry of Health instructing hospitals in Damascus and rural Damascus to stop taking in COVID-19 patients.” said Johan Mooij, Syria Response Director at World Vision.

World Vision is extremely concerned about cases increasing in Northwest Syria where thousands of people forced to flee their homes because of conflict are crammed in barely livable conditions inside displacement camps. The figures there officially stand at 30, however, according to health experts on the ground [2] this could rapidly increase. Doctors and nurses are also reported to be infected with COVID-19.

“As we witness global cases rising to over sixteen million, we must be aware that in some of the world’s most vulnerable places, the virus isn’t even close to reaching its peak. In Syria, projected cases and deaths will be particularly severe among those who have fled conflict and are now living in camps. Much of the infrastructure has been destroyed and health services are skeletal. As cases increase, the already weak health system will soon be overwhelmed.” said Mooij.

World Vision’s 100 Days On – Covid-19 Response report reflects how the international organisation adapted to remote response coordination, scaled up community, health worker, and faith leader mobilisation and reimagined displacement operations inside camps. By doing this they reached forty four million people, almost half of them children, with essential aid and secondary impact support.

We are grateful that our donors have enabled our organisation to respond and support so many to fight the impact of COVID-19 in some of the world’s most fragile places. World Vision and other aid agencies will continue to work with vulnerable children and their families as they battle the aftershocks of COVID-19 but we cannot do this alone.” Said Andrew Morley.

The international NGO is calling on global leaders to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access and urgently provide funding to increase testing and strengthen health system capacity in places where many will otherwise be left to die.

“We continue to do everything we can to support the most vulnerable, and we urge world leaders to prioritise the protection of children from the aftershocks of this pandemic, giving them the chance to reach their God-given potential.”Said Mr Morley.


For further information or to organise an interview, please contact: 

Niamh Cooper |  Director of Media and Social Media Engagement | | Skype: Niamh.cooper5 | Phone: +353 87 942 3371

You can read World Vision’s 100 Days On – Covid-19 Response report here

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision

[1] Humanitarian Access Team’s Weekly Report 17-23 July, 2020

[2] Hariri, M., Rihawi, H., Safadi, S., McGlasson, M. and Obaid, W., 2020. THE COVID-19 FORECAST IN NORTHWEST SYRIA The Imperative of Global Action to Avoid Catastrophe.