For Immediate Release
May 7, 2015
Washington, DC – A 19-year-old Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteer was killed yesterday in Douma, rural Damascus, as the SARC Douma branch was targeted by shelling. The SARC Douma branch was targeted on the same day that a SARC convoy bringing life-saving medical equipment into besieged Douma was allowed to enter the area. Nineteen-year-old Israa Alhabash was killed by the shelling while she was standing next to the medical aid convoy, and several civilians were also injured.
The aid convoy was bringing essential medical equipment into Douma after long negotiations. A critical lack of equipment and supplies led to the deaths of several dialysis patients in Douma in April 2015, as hemodialysis equipment have been unable to enter the besieged area for two years. SARC negotiated with the Syrian government to allow a convoy to enter Douma containing supplies for 250 dialysis sessions, 10,000 doses of various vaccines, and 500 insulin doses on May 6, with the intention of a convoy with the same supplies returning to the area on a monthly basis.
Yesterday, on May 6, the SARC convoy successfully entered Douma, but while the convoy was stationed at the SARC branch of Douma it was targeted by shelling. Activists say that the shelling came from Alwafedeen, an area north of Douma that is controlled by the government. The convoy was able to safely leave Douma after the shelling.
The last aid convoy that was allowed to enter Douma was on December 31, 2014. For more than two years, Douma has been under siege and food, electricity, water, and medical care has been extremely limited. Dr. Majed, the Spokesperson for the United Medical Office of Eastern Ghouta, said, “We need an immediate international response to this critical humanitarian situation. It is essential that medical aid convoys be allowed to enter Douma safely and provide critical medical equipment.” UN Security Council Resolution 2139 mandates that all parties “immediately end the siege of populated areas” and allow humanitarian aid convoys, including convoys with medical assistance, into besieged areas immediately. The targeting of medical buildings, convoys, and personnel is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law as per the Geneva Convention. Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of SAMS, said, “The UN, international NGOs, and governments that have particular influence on the Syrian government, like Russia and Iran, should uphold the Syrian government to minimal standards guaranteeing the safety of all medical and humanitarian partners, especially SARC volunteers. Our thoughts are with the family of Israa Alhabash at this time, and with all of the brave Syrian medical volunteers who risk their lives to deliver care to others.”