At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the French hospital system had an unmatched health crisis and the medical staff was exhausted, many foreign caregivers volunteered to support their French colleagues. Our reporters visited Syrian doctors who lived in France, sometimes involved in the risk of their lives, to help their host country and whose war medicine skills are a valuable asset.
In France, in early March, the Grand Est region was at the heart of the health crisis. At the hospitals in Mulhouse, Strasbourg, Metz-Thionville, past Verdun and Bar-le-Duc, our reporters followed Hassan, emergency specialist in war medicine, Basma, gerontologist, Haytham, pediatrician, Mohammed, cardiologist and Jubran, vascular surgeon. These Syrian doctors, who often experienced war in their country and found refuge in France, were on the front lines of the pandemic.
In hospitals overloaded with Covid-19 patients with overwhelming resuscitation services, they stood out for their calm and their ability to quickly adapt to an absolute emergency.
And for good reason. While in Syria, Jubran treated the wounded under the bombs. When the hospital where he worked at Maarat al-Numan was bombed, he lost seven colleagues. Basmaa, for his part, saw his hospital destroyed by the regime in the suburbs of Damascus, the capital. Refugees in France, where they now exercise, these doctors were often thrown, despite themselves, into these painful memories when Covid-19 swept into his hospital.
The war in Syria is what drove them into exile. Who keeps Jubran’s parents in a refugee camp in the Idleb region. On the front in France, these doctors remain in parallel to help their country. Hassana was founded NGO SOS Syria, which provides assistance and medical equipment to the refugee camps. Jubran and Mohammed, on the other hand, provide medical support at a distance and, thanks to social networks, they are trying to prevent Covid-19. Everyone hopes that one day Syria will return to peace, so that they can return to practice in their country’s hospital.