Over 1,000 need med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion from Ghouta, WHO says

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

MORE than 1,000 people are in need of im­me­di­ate med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion from be­sieged East­ern Ghouta in Syria, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) said yes­ter­day. “At­tacks on the health sec­tor have con­tin­ued at an alarm­ing level in the past year. The 67 ver­i­fied at­tacks on health fa­cil­i­ties, work­ers, and in­fra­struc­ture recorded dur­ing the first two months of 2018 amount to more than 50 per­cent of ver­i­fied at­tacks in all of 2017,” WHO said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“The suf­fer­ing of the people of Syria must stop. We urge all par­ties to the con­flict to end at­tacks on health, to pro­vide ac­cess to all those in Syria who need health as­sis­tance and above all, to end this dev­as­tat­ing con­flict,” Dr. Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, WHO’s di­rec­tor gen­eral, said.

Ghe­breye­sus noted that crit­i­cal med­i­cal sup­plies have also been rou­tinely re­moved from U.N. con­voys to hard-to-reach and be­sieged lo­ca­tions in Syria.

“Ear­lier this month, more than 70 per­cent of the health sup­plies in­tended to reach East Ghouta were re­moved by au­thor­i­ties and sent back to the WHO ware­house. The items re­moved are des­per­ately needed to save lives and re­duce suf­fer­ing.” He un­der­lined that seven years of con­flict have dev­as­tated Syria’s health­care sys­tem.

“More than half of the coun­try’s pub­lic hos­pi­tals and health­care cen­ters are closed or only par­tially func­tion­ing and more than 11.3 mil­lion people need health as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing three mil­lion liv­ing with in­juries and dis­abil­i­ties.”

The U.N.’s World Food Pro­gram (WFP) also urged “all par­ties to the con­flict to al­low safe, un­hin­dered and un­con­di­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess for the de­liv­ery of food and other life-sav­ing as­sis­tance to those who are so des­per­ately in need.”

Ac­cord­ing to WFP, some 6.5 mil­lion people in Syria are food in­se­cure and an­other four mil­lion people are at risk of be­com­ing so.

On Feb. 24, the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously adopted Res­o­lu­tion 2401, which calls for a month-long cease­fire in Syria, es­pe­cially East­ern Ghouta, to al­low the de­liv­ery of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid. De­spite the fact that as many as 400,000 people live in the city with scarce med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and food, the regime has con­tin­ued at­tacks and blocked de­liv­ery of in­ter­na­tional aid. Even though the U.N. con­sid­ers the siege and de­pri­va­tion of wa­ter and food to be war crimes, all at­tempts to end the block­ade have been un­suc­cess­ful. Rus­sia, the main backer of the As­sad regime along with Iran, or­dered a hu­man­i­tar­ian pause in an at­tempt to demon­strate its clout in the deadly civil war. The pause was set for five hours to cre­ate a cor­ri­dor to al­low civil­ians to exit the area. The Rus­sian De­fense Min­istry said it would help in­jured civil­ians leave the town. Yet, the pause has been vi­o­lated by the regime.

Smoke bil­lows fol­low­ing regime bomb­ing in the op­po­si­tion-held en­clave of East­ern Ghouta, March 13.

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