The United Nations on Tuesday condemned a recent wave of air strikes on medical centers in rebel-held parts of Syria including most recently one that targeted a hospital in the town of Saraqib in rural Idlib serving 50,000 people, putting it out of action.
Panos Moumtzis, UN regional coordinator for the Syria crisis, said: “I am appalled by the ongoing attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities in northwestern Syria, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of their basic right to health.”
It was the fourth time in 10 days that air strikes had caused major structural damage to a hospital in Saraqib, said Moumtzis. An air attack also wrecked a medical center serving at least 10,000 people in Aleppo governorate on the same day.
In 2017, there were 112 verified attacks on health facilities in Syria, and there had been at least 13 so far this year, according to Moumtzis.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Monday condemned the airstrikes on a hospital the medical charity supports in Saraqib. It said the attack caused deaths and injuries and seriously damaged the facility.
“This latest incident demonstrates the brutality with which health care is coming under attack in Syria,” said Luis Montiel, MSF head of mission in northern Syria. “The fact that this attack occurred on a facility while it was treating incoming patients is particularly egregious and a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”
A separate UN report said 272,345 people had been displaced between Dec. 15 and Jan. 24 in Idlib governorate, and health organizations there were being stretched to the limit.
The 18-bed Owdai Hospital (also known as Al Ihsan Hospital) is the only public hospital in Saraqab District in the eastern Idlib countryside. The attack on the hospital resulted in at least five deaths, including a child, and injuries to at least six people, including three medical staff, the hospital manager said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) voiced alarm at a surge in violence resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties and the destruction of hospitals and schools in many parts of Syria.
In a report published in October 2017, ICRC said that “these are the worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo in 2016,” as the bombing campaign by the Assad regime and its allies continues in the majority of rebel-held areas across Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)