File Photo: A disabled man sits on his wheelchair in front of his tent at the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border February 25, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
The Syrian war has left around 270,000 Syrians permanently disabled, according to a report released by the Syrian National Coalition on Wednesday.
The report, entitled ‘Syrians With Disabilities: A Life Twice As Bitter’, also stated that the number of injured Syrians has reached 1.5 million since the beginning of hostilities in 2011. There are concerns that this number will continue to increase given the emergence of the radical Islamic State grouping and the air strikes by the US-led coalition on IS targets.
The conflict began in 2011 when opponents of the Assad regime started protesting against the government, and the regime began to crackdown brutally on dissent. Opposition groups took up arms in response.
The death toll has reached 200,000 in less than four years, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates around 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since March 2011. Around 3 million have fled to Syria's neighbours Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, while 6.5 million are displaced within Syria.
Prior to the war, disabled Syrians were marginalised, the report stated, but there were some limited services available from local organisations. The availability of services has decreased since the outbreak of violence, as numbers of those disabled, including children, has increased.
Although the UNHCR and its partners provide special services to the refugees with disabilities, the Syrian National Coalition report states that more support is needed.
International agencies have warned of limited budgets to support the millions of displaced Syrians, with the World Food Programme launching a three-day campaign to raise $64 million in order to reinstate food assistance which it was forced to halt on 2 December due to lack of funds.
The Syrian National Coalition is an alliance of revolutionary forces and groups opposed to Bashar Al-Assad's regime. It was established in November 2012.