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Rally world leaders to enforce the protection of health facilities & workers in Syria

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Dear Prime Minister, 

We are very concerned about the ongoing bombardment of civilians, hospitals, schools and even refugee camps in Syria. There has been 365 attacks on 259 separate facilities between March 2011 and the end of April 2016. Indiscriminate barrel bombs, which were banned under UN Resolution 2139, were used on at least 70 occasions to attack hospitals.

Targeting physicians and hospitals is a war crime, and doctors, healthcare workers, humanitarian NGOs and healthcare organizations have all spoken out of our grave concerns of the ongoing and increased attacks against healthcare workers and hospitals in Syria.

 On May 3, 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2286, strongly condemning attacks against medical facilities, and personnel in conflict situations. The renewed commitment of the 15 UN Security Council members who passed the resolution, and the many dozens of countries who endorsed it is a welcome step. But now these words must be matched by action. We cannot afford to see this renewed commitment unravel.

We therefore urge you, Prime Minister, to adopt a leadership role to stop attacks against healthcare in conflict zones with the might of international humanitarian law on your side. We urge you, in your role as the Prime Minister of Canada, to take the following actions:

1. Publicly reiterate the commitment of Canada to universally-recognized principles of International Humanitarian Law which afford hospitals and medical personnel heightened protection during armed conflict and respect the obligation of medical personnel to treat the sick and wounded without interference regardless of their identity or affiliations.

2. To publicize widely as Prime Minister the position of Canada in strongly opposing attacks against healthcare workers and facilities, making clear that such attacks violate international humanitarian law and in many cases amount to war crimes.

3. To publicize widely Canada’s commitment to UNSC resolution 2286 and to adopt a leadership position to ensure it is upheld, working closely with your allies and counterparts.

4. To launch a formal discussion of referral of the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court and support an alternative international criminal process should a referral be vetoed yet again..

5. Reconvene relevant stakeholders to work assiduously in devising a means to provide real protection to Aleppo and other areas in Syria which are subject to relentless destruction of health facilities depriving them of medical care and basic humanitarian services required for survival.

6. To adopt a leadership and collaborative role working with your public and private offices in order to convene a working party designed to support criminal investigation and where appropriate, prosecutions, of those who perpetrate attacks on healthcare in Syria as well as in other countries where attacks on health amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

 Yours Sincerely, 

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