The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) of the World Health Organization has condemned attacks on health facilities resulting from Syria’s civil war.

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 conflict.

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.”

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