MSF: Syrian medical facilities targeted

MSF: Syrian medical facilities targeted
Analysis: The frequency and intensity of attacks on health centres in Syria is increasing, reports Medecins Sans Frontieres, after Busra hospital in Daraa was destroyed on Monday night.
3 min read
18 June, 2015
Busra hospital was hit by ten barrel bombs on Monday night [MSF]

Busra hospital in Daraa province in south-west Aleppo has been destroyed, according to a report from Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders.

The medical centre is understood to have been hit by ten barrel bombs on Monday night. It was the only facility in the province that provided neonatal and dialysis services.

"They targeted the building at about 11pm with four drums that broke doors and windows. After an hour, they dropped six more bombs that destroyed half the medical equipment and seriously damaged the building," one of the doctors in charge of the hospital told MSF.

The agency's Syria chief said such attacks on medical infrastructure was "unacceptable".

"Once again we call on the warring parties to respect civilians, health facilities and medical staff according to humanitarian law," said Carlos Francisco, MSF's head of mission for Syria.

     These new attacks on medical infrastructures are unacceptable.
- Carlos Francisco, MSF's head of mission for Syria

Medical centres attacked in Aleppo

The strike comes only a few days after the third attack in a year on a hospital run by MSF in Aleppo province.

On 10 June, a barrel bomb damaged medical equipment, the pharmacy, and all windows and doors at the hospital, while the post-operative room remains out of service. One of the doctors was also injured.

MSF says the intensity and number of attacks on medical facilities in Aleppo is increasing. It has received reports of attacks on nine health centres since May 2015, including six hospitals.

The NGO reports that medical staff in the area feel let down by the international community, and many have been forced to flee due to the ongoing attacks. The loss of medical facilities is having a serious impact on the health of local residents, it said.

"Hospitals are the main target but recently ambulances have been attacked with missiles. Health centres have also been targeted," said a doctor working at an Aleppo MSF-supported hospital.

The French-founded NGO runs seven medical facilities in Syria, and directly supports more than 100 others. It also provides assistance to Syrians who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

The attacks further weaken a medical system that is already close to failing.

In January 2015, a group of Syrian doctors said that, after four years of war, health services were at the point of collapse - with barely functioning hospitals and the return of diseases such as polio, typhoid and TB.

'Weapon of war'

Attacks on medical facilities have previously been documented.

In September 2013, a UN-appointed human rights probe - the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria - produced a report holding both government and anti-government forces responsible for attacks on healthcare facilities.

"The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel and transports, the denial of access to medical care, and ill-treatment of the sick and wounded, has been one of the most alarming features of the Syrian conflict," it read.

Speaking after the report's release, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the commission, told the UN's Human Rights Council: "The discriminatory denial of the right to health as a weapon of war has been a chilling feature of this conflict."