Rochdale consultant speaks out after mission to war-torn Syria

Date published: 10 November 2023

Mr Mounir Hakimi, a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon working at Rochdale’s Highfield Hospital, has returned from an emergency medical mission to Syria.

Working alongside colleagues from the David Nott Foundation and Action for Humanity, Mr Hakimi has spent several months treating innocent civilians' impacted by the ongoing war.

“My father was a doctor and from an early age I wanted to follow in his footsteps and spend my life caring for people. I’ve led several missions to disaster and warzones. Sadly, some of the worst suffering I’ve seen has been in Syria,” Mr Hakimi said.

Mr Hakimi qualified as a doctor in 2001 and joined colleagues across the medical profession to support the David Nott Foundation’s mission to Syria in 2023. Working alongside Action For Humanity, the mission aimed to provide specialist medical support to warzones and crisis situations across the world. The charities also work to provide humanitarian, development aid and peace-building activity in affected areas.

Commenting on his experiences, Mr Hakimi said: “Syria has been devastated by 13 years of civil war. The earthquake in February has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands without proper access to medical care. With airstrikes and the ever-present threat of violence, the situation on the ground is desperate.”

He added, “When the call came through asking if I would join a mission to support surgeons in Syria, I had no hesitation accepting, I felt I had to respond to calls from the ground and had expertise that I knew would be valuable.

“It was very difficult returning to my homeland, seeing the devastation caused by the airstrikes and the earthquake first-hand was upsetting. These people who have been affected are victims and haven’t done anything wrong.”

Mr Hakimi was part of the group of surgeons who treated Ahmed Attar. A young boy who was at a local market, when an airstrike wounded hundreds of people. Ahmed was found unconscious and seriously hurt, waking up in a hospital in Turkey.

A group of surgeons, including Mr Hakimi, successfully performed a knee reconstruction on Ahmed. He will eventually be able to walk again with the help of a prosthetic knee.

“These children had been walking through the street when they were indiscriminately hit by the airstrikes. They need our help, and they deserve the best post-care and attention”, Mr Hakimi said.

Mr Hakimi has already indicated he plans to return to Syria, as soon as another mission is organised, and time allows.

Sarah Agnew, executive director of The Highfield Hospital said: “The work of Mr Hakimi is of vital importance. As a hospital, we know how impactful specialist care like this can be. Everybody at Highfield Hospital is behind him and we wish him and colleagues every success on their future missions to Syria.”

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