Sunday 28 May 2017

Medical charity says over 60 sites hit in Syria

A damaged building is pictured after an airstrike on the rebel held al-Fardous neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Reuters
A damaged building is pictured after an airstrike on the rebel held al-Fardous neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Reuters

Ellen Doretz in Paris

More than 60 health facilities in Syria supported by the Doctors Without Borders (MSF -Medécin Sans Frontieres) charity were hit in attacks last year, with a dozen completely destroyed, the organisation said yesterday.

In a new report, MSF warned that Syria's health infrastructure "has been decimated", with frequent aerial assaults and shelling of hospitals and clinics, in violation of international law.

The report comes days after an MSF-supported facility in the northwestern province of Idlib was hit in an air strike that killed 25 people.

MSF did not assign definitive blame for the strikes, but the organisation's president, Joanne Liu, told reporters in Geneva: "The attack can only be considered deliberate.

"It was probably carried out by the Syrian-government-led coalition that is predominantly active in the region."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitor based in Britain, said the attack appeared to have been carried out by Russian warplanes waging an aerial campaign in support of Damascus. Moscow has denied the claim.

Shelling

Ms Liu was cautious on the question of Russia's possible involvement, stressing that for MSF the priority was for "the facts to be established."

The MSF report said 63 facilities it supports in north, northwestern and central Syria were hit in a total of 93 aerial and shelling attacks throughout 2015, with 12 completely destroyed.

A total of 23 health workers at the facilities were killed and another 58 were injured, it said.

The charity recorded 7,009 deaths and 154,647 wounded last year alone in 70 of the Syrian hospitals and clinics that it supports.

"The figures for us are really, really appalling and unprecedented in terms of war wounded... 155,000 (injured) is something we have never seen in 44 years of work for MSF," Ms Liu said.

"Syria is a kill box."

Irish Independent

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