After weeks of campaigning on social media and in the liberated territories of northern Syria, the administration of Bab al-Hawa announced yesterday that the Turkish government has agreed to reopen the border, allowing cancer patients access to lifesaving treatment in Turkish hospitals.
The campaign, named “Cancer Doesn’t Wait,” culminated in a sit-in at the border crossing, where cancer patients, their families, and supporters from the public, healthcare, and humanitarian sectors participated.
This morning, the first batch of 30 patients was successfully processed through the Bab al-Hawa crossing and is now en-route to Turkey for treatment in Turkish healthcare facilities. Sources close to the crossing’s administration have confirmed that Turkey has given clearance for over 600 children suffering from cancer to receive treatment, and the total number of cancer diagnoses in northern Syria exceeds 3,000. The Medical Coordination Office of Bab al-Hawa will actively follow up on the cases of thousands of registered patients and initiate the necessary steps to facilitate their transfer to hospitals in Turkey.
While the reopening of Turkey’s borders to receive patients will undoubtedly alleviate some pressure in these most critical cases, it is crucial to note that over a decade of war and the devastation caused by last February’s earthquakes have left the medical sector in northern Syria in dire straits. Furthermore, due to the politicization of aid by Russia and the Assad regime, the borders still remain closed to vital medical and humanitarian assistance.