High levels of mortality, exposure to violence and psychological distress experienced by the internally displaced population of Ein Issa camp prior to and during their displacement in Northeast Syria, November 2017.
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JournalConflict and Health
AbstractBACKGROUND: War in Syria has lasted for more than eight years, causing population displacement, collapse of medical and public health services, extensive violence and countless deaths. Since November 2016, military operations in Northeast Syria intensified. In October 2017 a large influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived to Ein Issa camp, Raqqa governate. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assessed the health status of recently arrived IDPs in Ein Issa camp. METHODS: MSF carried out a cross-sectional survey using simple random sampling between 8 and 18 November 2017, enrolling households who had arrived to Ein Issa camp since 1 October 2017. A questionnaire collected data on demographics, history of displacement, retrospective one-year mortality, two-week morbidities, non-communicable diseases, exposure to violence in the last year and two-week psychological distress symptoms among all household members as well as vaccination status in children aged 6 to 59 months. The latter were also screened for malnutrition. Prevalence estimates and mortality rates were calculated with their 95% confidence interval. Mortality rates were calculated as the number of deaths/10,000 persons/day using the individual person-day contribution of all household members. RESULTS: MSF surveyed 257 households (1482 participants). They reported 31 deaths in the previous year, resulting in a crude mortality rate of 0.56 deaths/10,000 persons/day (95%CI: 0.39-0.80). Conflict-related violence was the most frequently reported cause of death (64.5%). In the previous year, 31.7% (95%CI: 29.4-34.2) of the participants experienced at least one violent episode. The most frequent type of violence reported was witnessing atrocities (floggings, executions or public body displays); 18.9% (95%CI: 17.0-21.0) of the population and 9.8% (95%CI: 7.9-12.0) of the children under 15 years had witnessed such atrocities. In men over 14 years, 15.8% (95%CI: 11.9-20.8) were detained/kidnapped and 11.3% (95%CI: 8.0-15.8) tortured/beaten/attacked. In the two weeks prior to interview, 14.4% (95%CI: 10.6-19.3) of the respondents felt so hopeless that they did not want to carry on living most of the time. CONCLUSIONS: High levels of mortality, exposure to violence and psychological distress were reported. These survey results increase understanding of the impact of the conflict on the IDP population in Northeast Syria.