World 'turning blind eye' to Aleppo carnage

World 'turning blind eye' to Aleppo carnage
3 min read
13 June, 2016
The head of Medecins Sans Frontieres' Syria mission has condemned the international community amid "senseless attacks against civilians".
MSF has found itself a target in recent months [Getty]

The head of the Syria mission at medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has condemned the international community for "turning a blind eye to the carnage in Aleppo", in a statement issued on Monday.

"Hospitals, markets and residential areas are still under fire, and no-one is doing anything to put out the flames," said Muskilda Zancada.

Hospitals supported by MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, have reported a surge in attacks targeting civilian infrastructure during the past week.

In one incident, added Zancada, 15 people died and 20 were injured in attacks on the neighbourhood around the MSF-supported Bayan hospital.

The hospital was affected when bombs from airstrikes landed in front of its main door, and the building was damaged in many areas.

Some of those who died were patients inside the hospital, but the full number remains unclear as further fatalities are still likely. Some of the wounded, including patients already in the hospital, were transferred to other hospitals, many in a critical condition.

The extent of the damage has not yet been fully assessed, but the emergency room, the operating theatre, the pharmacy, the doctors' living quarters, the X-ray room and a drug storage warehouse behind the hospital have been  either damaged or destroyed.

Earlier this month, airstrikes in the neighbourhood of the MSF-supported al-Zarzour hospital hit a building used as a clinical warehouse, leading to the loss of much-needed medicine stocks. The full extent of the losses is also still not known, as ongoing violence prevents staff from carrying out full assessments.

No patients or medical staff were killed in that attack, but four others were killed and 17 people were injured in the neighbourhood.

"MSF once again condemns such senseless attacks against civilians a consistent feature in Aleppo, in a war characterised by such brutality," said Zancada.

MSF once again condemns such senseless attacks against civilians a consistent feature in Aleppo, in a war characterised by such brutality.
- Muskilda Zancada

In the city of Azaz, roughly 32km (20 miles) north-west of Aleppo, more than 100,000 people remain trapped between active fighting and the closed Turkish border.

MSF teams continue to distribute emergency relief items such as blankets, tents and mattresses - reaching more than 2,700 people in the first week of June.

Following an evacuation on 27 May, MSF was able on June 3 to reopen its al-Salamah hospital for emergency and surgical cases.

So far, it has seen 694 patients in its ER, including 114 trauma cases. It has also performed 18 surgeries.

One of the world's leading emergency aid providers, MSF has increasingly become a victim of conflict itself, with 75 hospitals managed or supported by the charity bombed last year alone.

Last month, MSF pulled out of a UN-backed World Humanitarian Summit, saying the meeting was a "fig-leaf" that would fail to pressure governments denying basic help to victims of conflict and disease.

The charity is also locked in a war of words with the United States military after US aircraft bombed an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last September, killing 42 people.