The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) of the World Health Organization has
condemned attacks on health facilities resulting from Syria’s civil
EMRO also expressed “deep concern about the serious implications of
such attacks on medical personnel, patients and health infrastructure” in the
unusual public statement.
Decades ago, Israel was a member of EMRO, but
because it consisted mostly of Arab countries hostile to Israel, it shifted to
the European Region of the UN body.
The statement does not mention by
name Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been blamed for the slaughter (so
far) of 30,000 Syrians rebelling against his rule, or who was responsible in
Syria for the violence and damage.
Assad is a trained physician and
ophthalmologist who studied medicine at the University of Damascus and
ophthalmology at Western Eye Hospital in London.
The EMRO statement
continued that “the recent escalation of the conflict has resulted in
substantial damage to health facilities across the country, limiting access and
the provision of essential health services.
WHO reinforces the obligation
of all parties in a conflict under international humanitarian law to protect
civilians, health facilities and health professionals during
Health facilities must be treated as neutral premises and never
be exploited for military purposes.
Almost 67 percent of public hospitals
have been affected as a result of the conflict, the WHO said, and 29% of those
affected are out of service.
“Damages to ambulances and their misuse are
hindering the safe transportation of patients requiring urgent medical, surgical
and obstetric care. Almost 271 out of 520 ambulances have been damaged or
affected, of which 177 are out of service.”
EMRO said that “at a time
when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities
be protected and medical staff allowed to safely provide medical care to
patients without any risk. WHO calls for a halt to the violence to ensure safe
access of patients to the health facilities, protection for all health personnel
and for the supply of medicines, vaccines and medical equipment.”