May 16, 2014
In May 2014, IFHHRO member Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released the most comprehensive map to date tracking attacks on medical personnel and facilities in Syria over the past three years. PHR’s interactive map indicates that government forces have overwhelmingly been responsible for these war crimes.
This map provides information on 150 attacks on medical facilities and the deaths of 468 health professionals, 34 percent of whom were doctors. More than 110 of these medical workers were executed or tortured to death by government forces. This tool, which provides links to more than 100 photos and videos from the field, serves as an important resource to explain why the medical community has been targeted during the Syrian conflict, and how this has accelerated the country’s public health crisis.
Breach of medical neutrality
Since the war began in Syria in 2011, hospitals, field clinics, ambulances, and vehicles transporting medicine and medical supplies have been deliberately targeted for destruction by government and opposition forces. Medical personnel have also been arrested, tortured, executed, and disappeared. These crimes against the principle of medical neutrality – which ensures safe access to medical facilities, protects health care workers and their patients, and allows medical workers to provide unbiased care – have compounded the suffering of civilians and hastened the devastation of an already fragile health care system.