Over 46 casualties and the last hospital bombed out of service by a chemical attack on Duma, Eastern Ghouta
Gaziantep – 9 April 2018: After a ceasefire that lasted for a few days in Duma, the Syrian regime forces struck on Saturday, 7 April the residential neighborhoods in Duma by heavy shelling and poisonous gases.
The management of Rural Damascus's specialised hospital reported six casualities arriving at the hospital, over 40 others found dead in their homes, and more than 500 cases requiring urgent medical intervention, most of them women and children. The Civil Defense volunteers on the ground expect numbers to rise due to the limited rescue capacity and reduced medical teams.
The cases identified had symptoms indicating exposure to a chemical agent. Patients showed signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns and emission of chlorine-like odor.
The chemical attack was followed by several intense air strikes targeting Duma’s Specialised Hospital and its surrounding area, putting it out of service, as declared by the Medical Office in Duma. This was the only functioning general hospital left in Duma, providing services to about 100,000 residents.
During the past 72 hours, the Syrian Red Crescent centre and additional two hospitals were also targeted in Duma.
It is worth mentioning that one of the bombed hospitals was previously de-conflicted with the Russian military though UN OCHA to ensure the safety and security of its personnel, equipment and activities amidst active military operations.
The night-long offensive paralysed the Civil Defense volunteers’ efforts to retrieve bodies due to the continued shelling, intensity of the gas odor, and the lack of necessary protective equipment.
The humanitarian situation in Duma deteriorated to its worst despite being only a few kilometers away from United Nations’ offices in Damascus. The United Nations Security Council has failed to protect civilians from the continuous bombing and use of chemical weapons and has allowed regular violations of resolutions on these matters.
We demand an immediate ceasefire and protection guarantees for all civilians, humanitarian staff and medical facilities. We demand that parties to the conflict adhere fully to International Humanitarian Law and de-escalation zones agreements, and that criminals responsible for targeting civilians, including through chemical attacks, be held accountable.
We demand the European Union, United Kingdom and United States of America to send international investigation teams to Duma immediately and issue a detailed report on the attack. We affirm that SNA member organisations who operate in Duma will cooperate in any verification process initiated by the international community.
We call on the above-mentioned countries and on the international community to use their influence to achieve a nation-wide cessation of hostilities, particularly in eastern Ghouta; and to make sure that civilians and aid workers are protected and not exposed to further forced displacement. We also call on all parties to enforce international law prohibiting the use of poisonous chemical weapons again in Syria.
The Syrian NGOs Alliance represents the following organizations:
- Al Sham Humanitarian Foundation – AHF
- Big Heart Foundation
- Binaa Organization for Development
- Children of One World
- Ghiras Al Nahda
- Hand In Hand for Syria
- Ihsan for Relief and Development – IRD
- Masrrat - The Syrian Establishment For Human Care & Enhancement
- Physician Across Continents – PAC Turkey
- Social Development International – SDI
- Syrian American Medical Society – SAMS
- Syrian Expatriate Medical Association – SEMA
- Syria Relief and Development – SRD
- Syria Relief - SR
- Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization
- Union of Relief and Medical Care Organizations – UOSSM
- Violet Organization for Relief and Development
For media inquiries
Khaled Mostafa, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Syrian NGO Alliance (SNA)
Mohammed Alhammadi, Coordinator
Syrian NGO Alliance (SNA)