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July 23, 2020


As the COVID-19 global pandemic spreads across the globe, vulnerable populations including the world’s more than 70 million displaced people will be among the hardest hit. Economies and job markets are bearing enormous strain, with millions out of work amid shelter in place orders. Governments around the world are attempting to provide the necessary testing, tracing, and care to those suffering from the virus without sufficient resources or health care systems. Border restrictions and struggling supply chains mean it is harder to deliver aid to those who need it.

As countries struggle to keep up, underlying vulnerabilities among displaced populations in need are exacerbating the effects of the crisis. This year, the world is facing skyrocketing food insecurity, increased intensity of natural disasters, and underlying health issues especially among children.

Available funding is in no way sufficient. Without an end in sight, the ultimate scale and scope of the COVID-19 crisis is still unknown.

But one thing is certain: if we, people, do not step up now, the worst is yet to come. 

The consequences of large funding gaps will not surprise anyone: without needed resources, there will be exacerbated health problems and a delay in the delivery of lifesaving aid.

But there is a more important reason to act: there is a moral imperative in this time of need. Donors have traditionally understood the importance of such investments in an international response. The work that funding supports, from food assistance to medical care to livelihood programming to strengthening responses for children, is essential and saves lives.

We don’t know how far this crisis will escalate the vulnerabilities for populations worldwide. But we do know significant and urgent investment in international assistance is the right—and necessary—thing to do.

July 16, 2020


How can you ask homeless people to stay at home to avoid infection?

For people dependent on daily activities for their survival such as day laborers and those living in precarious or overcrowded settings, self-isolation and lockdowns are not realistic. In some places, hundreds of thousands—sometimes even millions—of people live in difficult and dangerous conditions, without any social safety net. It is crucial to provide people with the means to protect themselves and others.

SEMA US has expanded its healthcare programs in Lebanon, just in time to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 response primarily focuses on increasing access to healthcare for vulnerable communities including Syrian and Palestinian refugees, and will involve adapting medical activities in its own facilities, health promotion in the community, and supporting hospitals with their fight against the outbreak.

We are preparing our teams to receive cases in our facilities, in response to the emerging needs of the Lebanese population as well as the Syrian and Palestinian refugees or anyone else in Bekaa Valley. However, most patients with COVID-19 do not need hospitalization, which makes community intervention a vital element of any response in order to decrease the pressure on hospitals. SEMA US teams are conducting a series of intensive health awareness sessions about COVID-19 for vulnerable refugee communities. 

We still intend to keep most of our regular medical programs running by strengthening infection prevention and control measures. The non-COVID-19 medical needs of the communities cannot be ignored.

If medical care were to falter, then common childhood killers like measles, malaria, and diarrhea, would go untreated. It shouldn’t. Other essential services SEMA US provides, such as sexual and reproductive health care, psychological treatment, emergency room services, maternity and surgical wards, and treatment of patients living with communicable diseases remain operational. 

We are striving to find ways to keep doing as much of our lifesaving work as possible while adapting to the multiple and serious challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. You can help us make a greater impact by making a gift to SEMA US

June 20, 2020

How affected are Syrian refugee children?

Many Syrian children have never known a time without war. For millions of them, the conflict has stolen their childhood and affected their long-term physical and mental health as well as their prospects for the future. Many children caught up in this crisis have lost family members and friends to the violence, suffered physical and psychological trauma, and had to leave school.

Here are some specific ways the Syrian war is affecting children:

  • Diseases and malnutrition: Children are susceptible to ailments brought on by poor sanitation, including diarrheal diseases. They may miss vaccinations and regular health checkups, especially in cut-off areas. In poor housing, cold weather increases the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
  • Child labor and child soldiers: Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they work in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay. Some are forcibly recruited children who serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles.
  • Lack of education opportunities: About 40% of Syrian refugee children are out of school. In Syria, the war reversed two decades of educational progress. One-third of schools are not having classes because they have been damaged, destroyed, or occupied by military groups or displaced people.

If you could see through a Syrian refugee child’s eyes, what would life look like? For them, kite flying keeps aloft memories of family, friends, and their once-promising future. The children salvage remnants of their war-shattered lives, even if it’s just with a dirty plastic bag that can barely stand up to the breeze.

SEMA US makes sure refugee communities and their hosts have access to healthcare and proper nutrition. We provide help for the psychological wounds they have suffered, and we reduce the risks of being abused, neglected, and exploited. We can help people live healthy lives, even while they wait for an opportunity to return home.

You can, too.

Learn more:

May 29, 2020

Unbounded Compassion: Inside SEMA’s COVID-19 Response

SEMA medical teams have joined the fight against COVID-19 as the new coronavirus disease spreads to more than 200 countries.

It’s been incredible to see people working around the clock, trying to adapt, trying to learn, trying to collaborate to save as many lives as possible, all while working in the face of so much death.

Healthy Staff

A part of our job is providing support to the medical staff inside the hospitals. We’re doing everything we can to keep the doctors and nurses healthy because if they fall ill, there will be nobody to treat patients.

Proper Disinfection

We have a lot of experience with infection prevention and control from the epidemics we face across the world, so we’re helping to create pathways and processes within the hospitals to ensure that staff are protected from infection and that people who aren’t infected don’t become infected. 

SEMA Education

We’re all on a steep learning curve with this disease. We have different medical experts working side by side, and learning from the hospital doctors who were involved in the response from the beginning. The doctors and nurses here have been trained, they are at the forefront of the pandemic and have developed a clinical capacity that is extremely valuable.

Limitless Work

We opened 2 new hospitals specifically for COVID-19 patients With 100 admission beds and 20 ICU beds .

Outside the hospitals, we’re doing outreach work within the population, working with social workers, general practitioners and family doctors to help treat people in their homes and in facilities for the elderly.

As all hospitals are reaching their capacity, there is no choice but to treat some patients with less severe symptoms at home. 

Making Impact

In a crisis like this where needs are overwhelming, impactful choices have to be made. We at SEMA  know this very well from the critical situations we face around the world. 

We will continue to provide support here for as long as we’re needed. We are also preparing to intervene in other refugee camps and regions, including those where the epidemic is just starting and where prevention measures can have a big impact.

Syrian refugees are just some of the communities we cannot afford to let down. For them, COVID-19 is yet another assault on their survival. We hope this pandemic not only teaches us to wash our hands but makes us stand together to help establish accessible and better-equipped healthcare for all. 

May 8, 2020

Togetherness in Isolation: Helping Syrian Refugees This Ramadan

While self-isolating for the safety of our community and loved ones this Ramadan, many people will be apart from their friends and family. But for millions of refugees and displaced people, this is a reality they already know too well, having fled their homes to find safety in camps, settlements and in urban centres in unfamiliar towns and countries.

As the novel Coronavirus disease continues to wreak havoc in the most developed countries, Syria stands on the cliff. Hundreds of thousands of families in Syria are displaced due to bombings. Many families are stuck in the circle of poverty, some are living well below the poverty line as they have lost everything they owned.  They live in the same tents, they eat the same refugee diet and face the same challenges every day. Any pandemic of such nature will have incomprehensible consequences on human life, and if you have it difficult, they find it a hundred times more.

The Syrian crisis has torched the global refugee situation. One of the biggest challenges faced by these refugees is acceptance. By spreading knowledge about their plight and telling their struggle stories to the world, we can help them in being accepted by the global community. We need the world to see a Syrian man, not as a potential threat, but as the father who lost his little daughter to war. As the man who watched his home get destroyed by the bombing. As the husband who is desperately looking for ways to protect his family from harm and starvation. 

Ramadan is all about being generous and compassionate for humanity. The resilience of refugees inspires us and reminds us that all the actions we take, big or small, can have an impact. If you are privileged enough to enjoy delicious food during Suhoor and Iftaar, you cannot forget those who struggle to find food and shelter for their families. If you’re not, generating awareness regarding help for Syria would be the least you can do. Just a little bit of empathy can make the world a better place for all.


April 25, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves Greater Risks For Syrian Refugees

A place so traumatized by violence is now terrified of a virus in Northern Syria after 10 years of war and humanitarian catastrophe. Medics are doing all they can to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19. Masks are being handed out, parents are trying to protect their children but everyone seems to know it’s not nearly enough. They have very little equipment and supplies, and that means greater risks for an already vulnerable population.

Volunteers are teaching refugee children about the importance of proper hygiene. Anxiety in one of the largest settlement refugees in the world is on the rise. Warnings from aid agencies are stark.

Imagine then what it would cause in densely crowded refugee camps. Community centers filled with civilians in a war zone displaced people fleeing to informal settlements in places where there is little or no water, no washing facilities, little hygiene and no healthcare. They are scrambling to find enough medical staff to deal with the surges of patients. There is no doctor to call and there is no place for isolation if these people were asked to isolate themselves.

Due to severe travel disruption around the world, travel arrangements for resettling refugees are being temporarily suspended. SEMA is committed to working very closely within Syria to ensure that movements can still continue especially for the most critical cases wherever that’s possible. We began to hand out “hygiene bags”, which contain cleaning and hygiene products. We facilitated distribution of disinfectant and cleaning materials, installation of screening triage areas, and provision of diagnosis kits. Yet a lot more effort is needed.

As panic over the pandemic spreads around the world, we are very concerned about the virus spreading to vulnerable groups such as refugees and other people in overcrowded living conditions with limited access to health care and are always just trying to survive. People long accustomed to uncertainty for whom life has suddenly become an even greater challenge.

Time is running out to protect refugees from this coronavirus crisis. Now, more than ever, is the best time to get involved. Donate now.

March 19, 2020

SEMA started a project for safe emergency neonatal transportation

SEMA in collaboration with the WHO and Idlib health directorate just started a new and novel program for safe emergency neonatal transportation. We observed many cases of neonatal death and complications during emergency transportation. After conducting a root cause analysis we determined some defects in the ongoing healthcare system. We determined factors related to the lake of education, skills and neonatal equipment.

Therefore, we built up this comprehensive program “SENT”, which aim to:
1. Prepare ambulances equipped with specialized neonatal ventilator, bags, incubator, and other resuscitation equipment,
2. Offer a 3-month course of lectures and hands-on workshops for a group of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team.

We are starting this project as a pilot, and we will be collecting data to test the outcomes and impact. This data will be used for further developing the program and future publications.

January 15, 2020

SEMA US recently established this new mobile clinic in NW Syria

SEMA US recently established this new mobile clinic as part of our response to the massive displacement that is happening in NW Syria due to the ongoing military violence.

We established this new mobile clinic in #Afrin countryside, where there are thousands of people newly displaced over the last three weeks. Every day the clinic go to a different place where the displaced people camps are.

The clinic has a general practitioner and distribute medications. It also provides nutritional assessment and supply for children.

December 15, 2019

SEMA opened a new center for prosthetics in Al-Bab city in Aleppo

SEMA opened a new center for prosthetics to bring hope and mobility for those who have an amputated limb due to the devastating war in Syria. You cannot imagine how important this is to these vulnerable people! These prosthetics mean a new life to many: it means they can walk, they can work, and they can become independent. It means less chronic pain and psychological consequences. It basically means HOPE.

This center is part of the National Syrian Project for Prosthetic Limbs (NSPPL), a project that was started in 2013, and SEMA was one of the founders and has continued to be a major supporter of the work. This center will focus on rehabilitation and application of artificial limbs to relieve some of the burdens of affected refugee and displaced people. Now, the NSPPL has three centers in Rihaniyya – Turkey, Idlib and Al-Bab – Syria. Since its opening it has provided more than 7000 prosthetics and trained more than 20 trainees, more than half of them have Certificates recognized by international bodies for the manufacture of prosthetics.

Dr. Yasser Al-Tabba, SEMA International board of directors, and one of the founders of the NSPPL, offered at the opening, “This effort to help others is necessary and very important for the wellbeing of everyone, especially the weak. We are happy when we see patients using these limbs and improving their daily lives with them, and when we see the prosthetic project, it no longer depends on individual people but has become an institution without limit, building up not only artificial limbs, but people, not only people but communities. We are happy to revive this service to help alleviate suffering in our society.”

November 26, 2019

SEMA US completed the first accredited Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO)

We just completed our first accredited Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO), for a group of Syrian physicians, in Gaziantep – Turkey.

The (ALSO®) is an evidence-based, inter-professional, and multidisciplinary training program that equips the maternity care team with skills to effectively manage obstetric emergencies. The course was developed and is maintained by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

This course is part of an initiative to build capacity and train medical professionals inside Syria. The course was led by Dr. Shahla Namak, an associate professor of family medicine and obstetrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We thank Dr Namak for her passion and generosity.

We will have similar courses in the near future. Stay tuned for more ALSO courses. We are working towards graduating a team of licensed instructors to continue teaching the courses inside Syria.

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