Syria

'They Told Me They Were Going to Melt Me in Acid If I Continue the Work I Was Doing'

Friday, January 16, 2015
When the Syrian Revolution began back in 2011, Lubna Shaheen became an activist working with the opposition. As the war wore on, and as more and more Syrians became displaced, Shaheen, who didn’t want to be identified by her real name, felt there was a more urgent need. “I had to stop what I was doing as an activist,” she says, “and help the internal displaced people. They needed help.” But Syria became more dangerous by the day. Some of Shaheen’s friends were arrested, tortured and even killed. Shaheen had her own encounter with authority. She was stopped as she was delivering medical supplies from Damascus to Homs.

Documentation Vital to Ending Attacks on Health Care Workers

Thursday, January 15, 2015
2014 was a distressing year for health care workers in conflict areas around the world, as attacks on medical professionals and facilities were carried out in numerous countries. As these attacks continue, they must be appropriately documented in order to increase available information, raise awareness, and find appropriate solutions that facilitate accountability and ultimately prevent future violence.

Medical Aid Unable to Enter Syrian Rebel-Held Aleppo: World Health Organization

Thursday, January 8, 2015
The World Health Organization has been unable to get a desperately needed medical aid convoy through to civilians in the rebel-held part of Aleppo despite a government promise last month to give it access. The non-governmental Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations, made up of Syrian doctors, says cholera, typhoid, scabies and tuberculosis are spreading among the 360,000 people in rebel-held Aleppo for lack of treatments or vaccines. The area is cut off on three sides by the Syrian army. All sides in Syria's three-year civil war have prevented medical supplies crossing front lines, fearing they could be used to help wounded enemy fighters.

Dispatches: Taking Care of the Caregivers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
In early December, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on “global health and foreign policy.” As the title suggests, it was a bit of a grab bag, covering issues such as vaccines, strengthening health systems, and Ebola. But the resolution also included the General Assembly’s strongest statement yet on the issue of attacks on health workers, facilities, and patients, and called on governments to act to ensure health workers and patients are safe and facilities protected from attack.

Medical Workers in Conflict Zones Have Never Faced Greater Risks

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Although health care workers have been caught in the crossfire for decades, they're now being directly targeted. And threats are at an all-time high. Since 2012, there have been 2,300 incidents of violence or threats of violence reported to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), though the IFRC suspects that many more go unreported. This week, the United Nations passed a resolution that recognizes this danger and strengthens existing international laws that protect health care workers in conflict zones.

Attacks on Health Workers Violate Everyone's Human Rights

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Attacks on health workers, facilities, and patients violate the Geneva Conventions and international human rights law. How can we protect the human rights of those who give impartial care, and of those who desperately need it? Last month I joined a gathering of the diplomatic, global health, and humanitarian communities to discuss United Nations leadership for protecting access to health care. The UN Global Health and Foreign Policy Group is proposing a resolution to the UN General Assembly focused on ensuring the safety of health workers in conflict and emergency situations.

Chicago Doctors Risk Lives in Underground Syrian War Zone Hospitals

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
While their mission is to save lives, doctors and other health workers in Syria are being targeted in unprecedented numbers, unlike any prior conflict. Many doctors have already fled the war-ravaged country, but a group of Chicago-area doctors are risking their own lives to cross battle lines and save lives.

Doctors as Targets

Thursday, November 13, 2014
To the Editor: “Doing Good in Harm’s Way” (Giving section, Nov. 7) points out that though medical and relief workers should be protected, in fact they often become targets. I have had the opportunity to meet many doctors working in Syria, who tell me that they are targeted because they are medical professionals. Doctors, nurses and other health workers are often perceived to be the enemy because they treat people on all sides of the conflict. Since the start of the Syrian war, we have documented the deaths of 578 medical personnel and 207 attacks on medical facilities, with government forces overwhelmingly responsible for these crimes.

In Syria, Doctors Become the Victims

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
“Working in a field hospital is like death,” a surgeon told us two weeks ago in Turkey, where more than two dozen Syrian doctors and other health workers had come for training. As if treating victims of the Syrian Army’s weapon of choice, the barrel bomb, wasn’t enough, they themselves were often victims of those same terrible devices.

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