Syrian HTS-affiliated authority issues warning as more cholera cases found

Syrian HTS-affiliated authority issues warning as more cholera cases found
A self-proclaimed Syrian 'government' associated with the hardline Islamist group HTS has issued a four-page leaflet telling people to take precautions to avoid cholera amid a worrying outbreak of the disease.
2 min read
21 September, 2022
Syria has seen a worrying rise in cholera cases recently [Getty]

A self-proclaimed government operating in opposition-held areas of Syria has issued guidelines to the public on combatting cholera, amid a worrying increase in cases of the disease in the war-torn country.

The Syrian "National Salvation Government" (NSG) warned people in a four-page leaflet not to drink polluted water, make sure food was properly cooked, peel all fruit and vegetables, and wash their hands regularly.

The NSG is associated with the hardline Islamist armed group Hayaat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) which dominates Syria's rebel-held Idlib province. It challenges the authority of both the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the more moderate opposition "Syrian Interim Government".

On Monday, health authorities in the northern city of Jarabulus, which is controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, announced that two cases of cholera had been found in the city.

The Syrian First Responders' Team, a humanitarian coordination group, said on Telegram that the first recorded case in the city was that of a 40-year-old man originally from Aleppo.

An outbreak of cholera in Syria was announced on 10th September. So far the epidemic has mostly hit areas held by the Assad regime and Kurdish-held northeastern Syria.

In a press release on Thursday, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that 2,092 cases had been confirmed in northeastern Syria from cholera, with 10 reported deaths.

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It warned that the disease could spread quickly in Syria, where there are over 7 million internally displaced people, often living in crowded and unsanitary conditions without access to clean water or basic health services.

"The outbreak of cholera threatens more misery on hundreds of thousands of Syrians already at risk from hunger, conflict and the coming winter. Across the country, some 70 percent of the population now need help to meet their basic survival needs," Tanya Evans,  the IRC’s country director said.

"A decade of conflict has left the health care system in Syria extremely fragile and severely under resourced, making it much harder to mobilize a response to any potential epidemics or outbreaks such as this."