Attacks on hospitals since the start of the Syrian revolution five years ago have killed more than 700 doctors and medical workers, mostly in airstrikes, UN investigators said on Tuesday.
Chief of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, told the UN Human Rights Council that widespread, targeted aerial attacks on hospitals and clinics across Syria “have resulted in scores of civilian deaths, including much-needed medical workers.”
“More than 700 doctors and medical personnel have been killed in attacks on hospitals since the beginning of the conflict,” he said.
Pinheiro, who was presenting the commission’s latest report to the council, said attacks on medical facilities and the deaths of so many medical professionals had made access to health care in the violence-wracked country extremely difficult – and in some areas completely impossible.
“As civilian casualties mount, the number of medical facilities and staff decreases, limiting even further access to medical care,” he said.
Pinheiro also denounced frequent attacks on other infrastructure essential to civilian life; such as markets, schools and bakeries.
“With each attack, terrorized survivors are left more vulnerable,” he said, adding that “schools, hospitals, mosques, water stations are all being turned into rubble” and “tens of thousands of people were trapped between frontlines and international borders.”
Pinheiro said that the Assad regime was conducting daily airstrikes on rebel-held areas.
An estimated 24 hospitals in rebel-held areas in Syria have been targeted by Russian warplanes during the past eight months, leading to the complete destruction of eleven of them.
The hospitals were mainly in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia and Dara’a, including a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the town of Maaret Alnouman in Idlib, and Alwatan and the Orient hospitals in Jisr Alshughour. A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders was also hit in rural Latakia.
Russian airstrikes have forced seven hospitals in Dara’a to suspend operations for security reasons. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)