World Health Organization’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan said Syria is now “the deadliest place in the world for health workers, with attacks taking place at a disturbing rate and reducing the availability of an already limited number of health care workers.”
In a statement released on Saturday, Alwan pointed out that attacks on health care do not occur only as a result of direct violence. “Threats to health workers, patients and health facilities also take place through intentional withholding of medicines and treatment to besieged populations, and through deliberate interruptions to water and power supplies, reducing the functionality of health facilities,” he added.
“Thousands of people die every year not as a direct result of the violence, but because the environment has become too dangerous for health care to be delivered.”
Alwan went on to say that there are “clear laws and conventions not to attack health workers or health facilities, yet these are not being complied with.”
“Despite repeated calls for the respect and protection of health care by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these attacks continue, depriving people of their fundamental right to health, severely disrupting humanitarian operations and undermining health systems and long-term health development goals. We must not accept this as the status quo,” Alwan stressed.
Head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab earlier said that health services in liberated areas have seriously deteriorated as a result of the continued deliberate targeting of hospitals and medical facilities by regime and Russian forces. Abu Hatab also said that medical services suffer from acute shortages of doctors and equipment.
“Over 70% hospitals and medical facilities in liberated areas have been targeted by regime and Russian jets. These deliberate systematic attacks on vital civilian facilities are clearly aimed at forcing the population to flee their homes,” Abu Hatab said.
Abu Hatab, who is also Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Free University of Aleppo, noted that as many people are dying of curable diseases as by regime bombings, which is due to the severe shortages of the qualified medical staff and medical equipment.
“Many doctors are now either in Assad’s prisons, under the threat of airstrikes on hospitals, or fled the country,” Abu Hatab said.
With regard to the recent aerial campaign on Aleppo by the Assad regime and Russia, Abu Hatab warned that the systematic targeting of civilians, health facilities, and schools will force thousands to flee towards the border with Turkey.
Abu Hatab called on the international community to exercise pressure on the Assad regime and Russia to stop the bombing of hospitals and health facilities, denouncing “flimsy” claims by a number of countries that they cannot determine who is behind the bombing of hospitals in Syria.
“The international community bears full responsibility for what is happening in Aleppo,” Abu Hatab said, adding that the international community can impose a no-fly zone and prevent Assad’s and Russia’s jets from targeting hospitals and civilians. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Anadolu Agency)