Deployment area Northeast Syria

CADUS was active in various projects in the region for nine years. Shortly after our association was founded in the summer of 2014, we were on the ground for the first time in Northeast-Syria, then still known as Rojava. First of all, we carried out a “fact finding mission”: near the embattled city of Kobani, our mixed team was involved in both journalistic work and a medical assessment of the situation. This resulted shortly afterwards in our first mission with a medical focus. This was followed by several missions with the aim of training first aiders. Finally, the decision was made to build a mobile hospital for the region fighting against the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The procurement and conversion of the vehicles for the Mobile Hospital created our Crisis Response Makerspace. We rented a space, bought tools and worked with a growing group of volunteers to bring mobile medical help to the streets of Northeast-Syria. At the beginning of 2017, the time had come: vehicles and medical equipment were put on the road.

CADUS in Rojava 2015: fact finding mission
CADUS Rojava 2015 fact finding mission

In Iraq, however, it was over for the time being: the mobile hospital could not cross the border. At the same time, the liberation struggle against IS was raging in Mosul. The WHO became aware of our mobile medical care and asked us to support with a Trauma Stabilization Point (TSP) near the front line. In an abandoned building, the CADUS team quickly set up emergency medical care and did everything possible to stabilize people in the immediate vicinity of the fighting so that they could survive the transport to the nearest hospital.

Mobile Hospital on the road to Middle East 2017
Mobile Hospital on the road to Middle East

After Mosul, further TSP missions followed in Iraq until the mobile hospital was finally handed over to our partner organization, the Kurdish Red Crescent, in Northeast-Syria at the beginning of 2018. The fight against IS continued to rage there too, amid the numerous other conflicts in the region. The call for a TSP was also heard here, and the WHO supported plans in this direction. However, the project never made it past the planning phase and was overtaken by other events with new, urgent needs.

The fighting left Rakka a field of rubble. Here, we supported the Kurdish Red Crescent in opening a Primary Health Care Clinic (PHC). After two years of joint operation, our partners took over the management completely.

Meanwhile, we had our hands full when the Al Hol camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which grew from a few thousand to over 70,000 people at the beginning of 2019 as one of the last IS strongholds in north-east Syria was destroyed. CADUS was involved in setting up a field hospital and also took over the management of the camp’s internal ambulance operation desk.

We ran the field hospital from 2019 to 2023. Our local employees eventually founded their own NGO and have been continuing the project ever since. The operation desk was completely taken over by the Kurdish Red Crescent, with whom we have already worked together many times. Even if CADUS cannot always be directly on site, this cooperation enabled us to support those affected by the severe earthquake in early 2023 from afar by donating humanitarian aid supplies, as well as providing emergency medical care during the invasion of Turkey at the end of 2019.

Withdrawing from north-east Syria was not an easy decision for us. But ultimately, we always work towards building regional capacity and putting humanitarian aid into local hands. Even though it was a difficult journey and our association struggled internally at times, we can say that we have successfully closed the chapter on Northeast-Syria in the history of CADUS.

CADUS Ambulance in cooperation with KRC during Turkish attacks 2019
CADUS Ambulance in cooperation with KRC during Turkish attacks 2019