For Immediate Release
Heightened Violence and Attacks on Healthcare in Dara’a
February 23, 2017
Washington, D.C.- Over the last 10 days, Dara’a in southern Syria has experienced extensive damage to medical and civilian infrastructures, civilian injuries, and loss of life, due to heavy bombardment and airstrikes carried out by the Syrian government and its allies. Heightened violence has resulted in the deaths of 36 males, 1 nurse, 9 women and 6 children, as reported by SAMS personnel on the ground. SAMS is deeply alarmed by reports of the systematic targeting of hospitals and medical infrastructure in Dara’a.
Between February 13th and 20th, reports from the ground indicate that areas of Dara’a were subject to continuous barrel bombs, airstrikes, IRAM (“Fil”) rockets, artillery missiles, air raids, thermobaric rockets, and heavy machine gunfire. In one day alone, Dara’a witnessed 34 explosive barrel bombs, hundreds of artillery missiles, and 21 airstrikes. Areas targeted included Dara’a City, Sayda, Aljeezah, Bosra Alsham, Tafas, Alyadoodah, and Um Al-Mayadeen.
Despite these aerial threats, medical workers on the ground have continued their work in an extremely challenging and dangerous environment, and with limited resources. Last week, the Syrian government and its allies systematically targeted the region’s medical infrastructure, endangering the lives of civilians, medical staff, and preventing healthcare workers from treating the wounded. Medical facilities in Dara’a have sustained severe damages from bombardments and airstrikes. In one facility, structures, equipment, and medications were severely impacted by thermobaric rockets, airstrikes, and bombardments, all in a single day. The administrative section of the hospital was decimated, while the other sections suffered extensive damage. Four members of the staff, including the hospital’s manager, were injured.
Due to the heightened violence, life is increasingly unbearable for the residents of Dara’a, who face barriers in accessing adequate nutrition or basic medical supplies. As a result of last week’s aggressive attacks, schools closed for a week, and hospitals received only emergency cases to avoid the gathering of civilians in the vicinity of these hospitals. The prices of food, fuel, and medications such as antibiotics, pain relief, and pediatric medications, have seen an increase of up to 200%. The closure of medical facilities due to damage, risk, or curfew, means that wounded patients had to be treated in different towns, putting their lives even more at risk.
“SAMS strongly condemns these targeted attacks on civilians and healthcare,” said SAMS President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji. “It is outrageous to keep witnessing the loss of civilian life, the continued targeting of medical facilities, and the unbearable conditions that residents of Dara’a are forced to endure while the international community stands by.” SAMS urgently calls for the international community to take notice of the conditions in Dara’a to ensure the protection and adequate living conditions of its residents, and to ensure that medical staff can continue their lifesaving work without the constant threat of bombardment and targeted attacks.
For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Media and Communications Manager, Lobna Hassairi at [email protected].