Syria

Statement by Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, on East Ghouta Hospital Attacks [EN/AR]

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Amman, 20 February 2018

I am appalled and distressed by reports of the horrifying attacks against six hospitals in East Ghouta over the past 48 hours, resulting in a number of deaths and injuries, and depriving thousands of men, women and children of basic health services in the besieged enclave.

These attacks are completely unacceptable. I remind all parties that attacks against medical facilities is prohibited under international humanitarian law (IHL). Any such intentional attacks may amount to war crimes.

On Monday, five hospitals, the Al Marj Hospital, the Saqba Hospital, the Saqba Maternity Hospital and Al Hayat Hospital, as well as another hospital in Douma, were attacked, rendering three of the five hospitals inoperable and two partially functioning.

Each month, the hospitals were providing an average of 10,000 consultations, 1,200 major surgeries, 160 deliveries and 550 trauma treatments.

Today, a sixth hospital was reportedly struck in the town of Zamalka.

These unconscionable acts are yet another grim reminder of the depravity and madness of this conflict now almost in its eighth year. Today, approximately half of all medical facilities in Syria are now closed or only partially functioning. Millions of Syrians lack life-saving healthcare as a result.

Sadly, attacks against medical facilities and medical personnel, which have special protection under IHL, have been a hallmark of the conflict in Syria today. In 2017, there were 122 verified incidents on 73 health facilities and 69 ambulances, that resulted in the killing of at least 73 people, including 28 health workers. As of December 2017, 51 per cent of public hospitals across Syria were either partially functional or closed, while 27 health workers had been killed.

I condemn all attacks against medical facilities and call on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, as per UN Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016).

The attacks come amidst spiraling violence for the 393,000 people in East Ghouta, many of them internally displaced, and which account for 94 per cent of all Syrians living under besiegement today.

It’s beyond imagination what is happening in East Ghouta today. The untold suffering is intolerable and residents have no idea whether they will live or die. This nightmare in East Ghouta must end and must end now.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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