Syria: Attacks on medical personnel and facilities

April 27, 2015


Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, our member Physicians for Human Rights – USA (PHR) has documented attacks on medical personnel and facilities in Syria. In a new report, the organisation states that at least 610 medical personnel have been killed in the past four years and that there have been 233 attacks on 183 medical facilities.

According to PHR, the Syrian government has systematically violated this principle of medical neutrality and is using attacks on medical workers and facilities as a weapon of war. “It began when the government interfered with and compromised health care services by arresting injured protesters in emergency rooms, but quickly escalated into bombing hospitals in opposition-held areas and detaining, torturing, and executing doctors who were adhering to medical ethics by treating the wounded regardless of their political beliefs. The doctors who have risked their lives to remain in Syria and treat the injured have been decimated by Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which consider it a crime punishable by death to provide medical treatment to ‘the other side’.”

The Syrian government is responsible for 88 percent of the recorded hospital attacks and 97 percent of medical personnel killings, with 139 deaths directly attributed to torture or execution. PHR states these numbers are conservative given difficulties in reporting during a war. But one thing is certain, these attacks are deliberate and have a cascading effect on the health of Syrians.

Access the report Doctors in the Crosshairs (available in English and Arabic)