For Immediate Release
December 6, 2016
Washington, DC – After more than 100 days of siege, over 2,000 airstrikes, and the closure of all hospitals in eastern Aleppo, it is with a heavy heart that SAMS announces that our facilities and staff can no longer operate in the city. Our facilities have been seized by the government, leaving too many without the critical and life-saving medical care they need.
The brutal aerial bombardment campaign over Aleppo has killed hundreds of civilians, including children and women, and forced over 50,000 people to flee their homes in the past two weeks alone. The humanitarian crisis in the eastern part of the city has reached a tipping point. Hospital have been systematically targeted with impunity. Medical personnel have been struggling to treat patients. Medical equipment and supplies have been depleted. Emergency medical evacuations have been denied.
In November, with attacks on hospitals taking place every 24 hours, all of Aleppo’s hospitals were bombed out of service. The largest trauma hospital in Aleppo, which was supported by SAMS, was bombed out of operation despite its underground location. In October, this facility was attacked five times in one week with illegal and unconventional weapons including, barrel bombs, bunker buster bombs, and cluster bombs. These indiscriminate attacks on hospitals have taken an unimaginable toll on civilians- leaving more than 250,000 people, including 100,000 children, with no access to medical care. As the aerial bombardment campaign has intensified, the number of casualties and wounded civilians has reached the highest number since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Medical personnel have been treating the overwhelming number of wounded in basements with limited resources. People are using carts to transport the wounded. Bodies of the dead are wrapped in plastic bags and left on the streets because hospitals have run out of coffins.
“A few days ago the nurses out of desperation tried to operate M2 hospital again. They went into one of the remaining basements and started two ICU beds and a small procedure room,” said Dr. Anas Moughrabieh, SAMS’s Telemedicine Chair. “They consulted me about two patients. One had minor injuries and the other one was critically injured. I asked them to prematurely give up on the latter one and I felt bad to tell them it is luxury now to care for patients with this high level of injury with limited resources. However, our medics didn’t give up on him until their location was discovered and attacked by barrel and cluster bombs.”
Since the start of the conflict in Syria, nearly half a million people have been killed, over 20,000 of them children, 11 million have been forced to flee their homes, and over one million live under the horrific conditions of siege. These astonishing numbers paint a grim picture of suffering mothers, fathers, children, and families that have been failed by the international community.
“We are shocked by the inaction of the international community that has allowed such atrocities to be committed against civilians,” said SAMS Medical Staff Member in Aleppo. “Our hospitals continue to be targeted. Now, we are hiding in basements. We feel desperate and abandoned. The UN and the international community have failed Syria.”
For nearly six years, civilians, medical workers, schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods have been the target of unrelenting bombardment. Innocent Syrians have been forced to endure indiscriminate and unconventional weapons that maim, chemical weapons that suffocate, and relentless sieges that starve. These war crimes continue with impunity.
“Throughout these unimaginable conditions and challenges, SAMS has continued and will continue to provide care and alleviate the suffering of civilians across Syria, regardless of their religious or political affiliations,” said SAMS’s President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji. “Our brave medics have continued to do their job despite constant threats to their own lives. They are the true heroes and our shared duty is to protect them.”
SAMS condemns in the strongest terms the heinous attacks on civilian infrastructure in Aleppo, the inaction of the international community that has allowed innocent men, women, and children to be killed under their watch, and the vetoes from the UN member states of Russia and China of the resolution that would have allowed for a seven-day humanitarian pause. This resolution was meant to save lives. Now, more lives will be lost.
For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Media and Communications Manager, Lobna Hassairi at [email protected].