Leishmaniasis Haunts Thousands of Syrian IDPs Due To Water Crisis

Tens of thousands of cases of leishmaniasis have been found among IDPs in northeastern Syria. The cause is the lack of clean water to maintain cleanliness.

Syrian IDP child
Syrian IDP child suffers from leishmaniasis. (special document)

ACTNews, SYRIA – Tens of thousands of residents living in northeastern Syria live under inhumane conditions. Now, they are at risk of contracting the Leishmania parasite that causes the infectious disease leishmaniasis. This case is due to the lack of clean water.

The aid group said that since April 2021, more than 56,000 recorded cases of acute diarrhea in northeast Syria and more than 17,000 cases of leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease. “While these diseases are more common in Syria’s hot summer months, the outbreaks in 2021 have been much higher because clean water for drinking and washing has been so limited,” Save the Children said.

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. It is classified as a neglected tropical disease (NTD). Leishmaniasis is caused by infection with Leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of phlebotomine sand flies. 

There are several different forms of leishmaniasis in people. The most common forms are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow).

Mercy Corps Syria told Al Jazeera that it had recorded similar numbers of the diseases compiled by Save the Children since April. “The water scarcity adds another layer to the people’s suffering in the region,” Mohammad from Mercy Corps’ Syria Office told Al Jazeera. “It’s making life harder for families to survive.”

Meanwhile, Jihane (37) lives with her husband and three children in the Al Hol refugee camp. She told Save the Children that her six-year-old daughter Zaina suffered from ill. Her doctor said it was due to the quality of drinking water.

“When I took her to the hospital, more than 10 to 12 cases were suffering from the same symptoms,” she told the organization. “There was a boy there whose situation was critical.”

Jihane and her family have been displaced due to the devastating conflict for half a decade but said she does not have enough water to bathe her children and wash the dishes.[]