Doctors under Attack: Systematic Violations of Medical Impartiality in Yemen, Syria, and Egypt

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Assaults on health workers, facilities, and patients are all too common in countries across the MENA region. In Syria and Yemen, atrocities against health care continue unabated amidst public outrage. In Egypt, doctors are victims of police brutality and abuse.

While assaults on health care are unacceptable, what can we do to stop them from ever occurring again?

In Syria, Yemen, and Egypt medical practitioners find themselves under particular assault. Since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen in March 2015, more than 13 health workers have been killed and 23 injured. In addition, 102 health facilities have been partially or totally damaged. Since the start of the conflict in Syria, 373 attacks hit 265 medical facilities. Around 750 medical personnel have been killed. In July alone, there were 43 attacks on healthcare facilities in the country - more than one attack every day. In Egypt, doctors are being arbitrarily arrested and detained. Around 319 doctors were arrested between June 30 and October 6, 2013.

From the war-torn to the relatively stable, medics continue to be targeted with impunity. Despite attacks on medical personnel and health care facilities being against international law, accountability for violations of medical impartiality has yet to be seen.

Please join Defenders for Medical Impartiality, the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, and the European Centre for Democracy & Human Rights for a side event of the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council. We will examine the scope of medical impartiality violations in Syria, Yemen, and Egypt and seeks to answer the following questions:

  • Why are medical facilities targeted in Syria and Yemen and why are doctors being detained in Egypt? 
  • What impact do these violations have on the status of health care?
  • What are the strategies for ending attacks on health care providers and medical facilities?


  • Mohamad Katoub, Advocacy Manager at Syrian American Medical Society
  • Hani Hodaib, member of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate and Doctors Without Rights
  • Mohammad Al Wazir, Director of Legal Affairs at Arabian Watch Rights Association
  • Moderator: Diam Abou Diab, Senior Advocacy Associate at the European Centre for Democracy & Human Rights

Defenders for Medical Impartiality will live tweet during the event. Follow on Twitter: @DMI_MENA

The event summary will be available after the event: