Take Action To Stop The Targeting Of Hospitals And Medical Staff In Syria!
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My name is Dr. Monzer Yazji. I have been an internal medicine doctor in the United States for almost 20 years and a co-founder of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), one of the largest medical aid agencies inside Syria. In 2015 I was also a co-founder of UOSSM USA. We have over 1,500 medical staff on the ground in Syria. I have been on countless medical missions inside Syria which support 80 hospitals in the war torn country. Doctors who I have worked beside are facing bombing and death every day. I have lost too many friends and colleagues.
I could not stand by and watch the indiscriminate targeting and suffering of the Syrian people. I know that by being on the ground and entering Syria to offer my medical services I am risking my life. I know that each time I enter I may never see my family again. But as a doctor, this was a risk I was willing to take.
The war in Syria is the biggest humanitarian disaster since World War II. Since the beginning of the conflict, the medical situation continued to deteriorate and has reached a new low with the destruction of 70% of the medical infrastructure. I want to talk about the fate of my fellow health care workers who are systematically targeted in this terrible war. This is in direct defiance of United Nations Resolutions and International Humanitarian Law. 732 medical staff have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011.
“To Kill A Healthcare Worker Is To Kill Humanity”
Our duty is to revolt against what is unacceptable; to kill doctors, nurses and midwives whose only mistake was to help save lives. This has been happening for 7 years now and it must STOP. Attacks on hospitals and medical staff are war crimes and perpetrators must be held accountable.
Last year, according to the UOSSM Syrian Hospitals Report, all 107 hospitals in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Daraa, Quneitra and Homs were attacked at least once by a direct or indirect air strike in 2016. Some were targeted up to 25 times with an average of three attacks per hospital.
I'm going to tell you the story of Dr. Ali Darwish, killed by poisonous gas on March 26, 2017 while he was operating on a patient in Latamneh hospital. The hospital was targeted by a chlorine gas attack, Dr. Darwish didn’t want to leave the operating room until he was done with his patient. He was asphyxiated and finally died en-route to another hospital. With Dr. Darwish gone, an entire population was left without access to medical care, during war time, when care is needed most.
International humanitarian law, which codifies the laws of war, prohibits attacks on health institutions and medical staff. In the name of international humanitarian law and as a humanitarian doctor, I solemnly ask for:
1. The effective implementation of UN resolution 2286 (2016), which prohibits attacks against medical facilities/ staff/ aid workers during war. That the government makes every effort possible to prevent these attacks and holds perpetrators accountable for war crimes.
2. The immediate opening of a safe, impartial humanitarian corridor for NGOs to deliver essential aid to healthcare workers and care for neglected populations.
Petition launch on the campaign Doctors in Danger - www.doctorsindanger.com
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