Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 501--502

Safe space: An effective option to ensure normalcy in the lives of refugee women and girls in conflict-affected Syria

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Safe space: An effective option to ensure normalcy in the lives of refugee women and girls in conflict-affected Syria.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:501-502

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Safe space: An effective option to ensure normalcy in the lives of refugee women and girls in conflict-affected Syria. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Feb 19 ];10:501-502
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

Delivery of health care in a quality assured and need-based manner is an integral part of the health care system.[1] Nevertheless, it becomes quite challenging, in case of developing nations, which are struggling with a shortage of resources, or those regions which are affected by conflicts or humanitarian emergencies.[1] In general, conflicts present a difficult scenario for the health sector, as not only the access to the health care establishment is hampered, but even the needs of the population are increased due to the war-associated adverse consequences, and also cast a serious interruption in the basic welfare services.[1],[2] In-fact, the current global estimates suggest that in excess of 120 million people across the world are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 60 million people have been forced to leave their homes.[1],[2]

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, in excess of 0.22 million civilian people have lost their lives, while more than 12 million are in need of humanitarian aid, and close to 8 million people have been internally displaced.[3]

Further, in excess of 3 million refugees have migrated to Turkey, of which 25% are women in the reproductive age group.[3] Moreover, the fighting has continued intensively since the inception of the conflict, and due to the poorly executed relief operations, millions of local residents are left without access to essential care or health services.[2],[4] The problem is further complicated due to the massive destruction of health infrastructure, shortage of logistics or human resources, and risk of killing or abduction of the medical staff by the armed conflicts.[4],[5]

Moreover, causing disruption of the routine health services has become a big weapon of war, and almost all groups are assaulting medical personnel in various ways and thus violating human rights and humanitarian law.[5] It is very much essential to understand that whenever health infrastructure or health personnel are harmed, the extent of damage and impact is enormous.[1],[2] In fact, it has been concluded that a number of people has died due to the health complications occurring because of limited health care services than as a direct consequence of the conflict.[5] Further, civilian population from different vulnerable age-groups are affected, and apart from death and displacement, people have been exposed to the challenges of injuries, food insecurity, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and rise in the incidence of vaccine-preventable disease.[2],[4] In addition, many people have to deal with the long-term impact of psychological trauma or social exclusion, which also puts a halt in the overall progression of the affected people.[2],[4],[5]

In order to safeguard the interest of refugee women and girls population in urban areas, who are often destitute, exposed to isolation by sociocultural or language barriers, and at the potential risk of gender-based violence, trafficking, or forced-sex, the United Nation Population Fund has established multiple Safe Spaces in the nation.[3] Safe space provides an opportunity for the health workers to extend psychological support, sexual and reproductive health services like family planning, counseling, income-generation activities, language classes, legal assistance, and options to reestablish the community and network support in the migrated place.[3]

Further, it provides a safe environment for children to play and learn, and for women to actively participate in different recreational activities.[3],[4]

To conclude, the Syrian crisis has been ranked as the worst humanitarian crisis, and it is the need of the hour to assess its impact and take appropriate measures to prevent further loss and devastating impact. A Safe Space offers an encouraging option for the displaced women to utilize and gives them a hope of a better future amidst the ongoing war.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Trelles M, Dominguez L, Tayler-Smith K, Kisswani K, Zerboni A, Vandenborre T. et al. Providing surgery in a war-torn context: the Médecins Sans Frontières experience in Syria. Confl Health 2015;9:36.
2Sekkarie MA, Murad L, Sahloul Z. Revival of basic health services in Syria. Lancet Glob Health 2015;3:e597.
3UNFPA. Supporting women in crisis: Syrian refugees find services and hope in Turkey's safe spaces; 2016. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 July 11].
4Devakumar D, Birch M, Rubenstein LS, Osrin D, Sondorp E, Wells JC. Child health in Syria: recognising the lasting effects of warfare on health. Confl Health 2015;9:34.
5Heisler M, Baker E, McKay D. Attacks on health care in Syria-normalizing violations of medical neutrality?. N Engl J Med 2015;373:2489-91.