Tuesday, March 14, 2017 — Syria
Six years into the war in Syria, civilians continue to suffer as a result of a brutal conflict that has precipitated a complex humanitarian crises, with ever mounting suffering and millions without access to basic healthcare. In the face of these colossal needs, international medical organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reiterates its call to warring groups to allow access to Syria, in order to provide medical assistance to the victims of war.
“All parties to the conflict, neighboring countries and international actors must allow access for humanitarian aid and not use it as a political tool,” said Pablo Marco, Middle East Operations Manager for MSF. “They must also allow those in need of medical assistance into areas where they can access specialised medical treatment and enable medical staff to access them, while ensuring the protection of first-responders, medical staff and facilities.”
The war, coupled with attacks on medical personnel and facilities, has dramatically weakened Syria’s previously well-functioning healthcare system. This at a time where there has been a significant surge in medical needs as a result of the conflict, placing tremendous pressure on the remaining healthcare infrastructure. MSF teams are currently operating in several Syrian governorates to provide life-saving care, however, the Government of Syria has still not granted authorisation for MSF to work in the territories it holds, despite repeated requests. MSF also does not have a presence in areas under the control of the Islamic State group for lack of credible assurances to protect the safety of our staff.
“All this puts large areas out of reach for MSF for the moment,” Marco said. “While MSF will continue its efforts to work across all Syrian territories, we call for space for independent impartial care in Syria and for aid groups to be allowed to conduct concrete humanitarian and medical response in areas of need,” Marco continued.
Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have made immense efforts to help Syrian refugees, hosting almost 4.8 million Syrians. However, hundreds of thousands continue to seek refuge abroad. MSF calls on Syria’s neighbors to allow the cross border evacuation of not only vulnerable cases, critical cases, and the severely ill and wounded, but also for all those seeking refuge in the spirit of the Refugee Convention, Marco said.
“The rest of the world cannot turn its back on thousands of people who have fled war and persecution. Respecting peoples' right to seek asylum and to obtain proper assistance and protection is fundamental,” Marco added.
As the conflict enters its seventh year, Syria remains one of the most complex and volatile humanitarian crises in the world today. In the war-torn country, the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) governing conflicts has been entirely overlooked, leading to an absence of due care from parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties. “Warring parties in Syria must take steps to protect the civilian population and civilian infrastructure as per IHL in zones of battles,” Marco said. “Those infringements to IHL are unacceptable,” he added.