Joint public letter from medical, human rights, and relief organizations to:
Russian Medical Society \ Российскому медицинскому обществу
Union Pediatricians of Russia \ Союзу педиатров России
Russian Medical Association \ Российской медицинской ассоциации
Russian Red Cross Society \ Российскому Красному кресту
Union of Medical Workers of Russia \ Профсоюзу работников здравоохранения Российской Федерации
Dear members of the Russian medical community,
We write to you today as fellow medical professionals from several humanitarian and human rights organizations providing healthcare or documenting violations in Syria. We appeal to you, our colleagues in medicine, to join us in urgently addressing the healthcare crisis in Syria, especially in Aleppo. Healthcare continues to be used as a weapon of war in Syria, and civilians are paying the price.
On November 13 and 14, four hospitals west of Aleppo city were hit by airstrikes. They all suffered damage and were forced to suspend services. All were within 20 miles of each other, thus the region was left without a single functioning hospital. That same week, the few hospitals remaining in besieged eastern Aleppo city were also hit by airstrikes and forced to close. The lack of accountability for attacks on healthcare in Syria has created a dangerous new normal, yet heroic medical personnel continue to risk their safety to save the lives of others. Two weeks ago, all remaining hospitals in besieged eastern Aleppo City were forced to either close or operate at very low capacity after days of intensive targeted bombing. One of these hospitals, the Children’s Hospital, was treating children suffocating from a nearby chemical attack, only to be bombed while patients were still inside. The targeting of these hospitals, which treat women, children, and families, has left nearly 300,000 people trapped, among them 100,000 children and 151,000 women, and without access to healthcare, a human right.
Despite efforts to fortify facilities to safeguard medical staff and patients, Syrians continue to be illegally targeted and killed where they are seeking care. Physicians for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 757 health workers and 382 attacks on medical facilities throughout the conflict in Syria. Each of these attacks is a war crime, and together they amount to crimes against humanity. More than 90% of these attacks were carried out by Syrian government and Russian forces. Our medical doctors and surgeons have witnessed and treated those victims in their medical mission to Aleppo. They have testified about their findings to the United Nations Security Council in the presence of your country representative.
Eastern Aleppo city has become the modern Stalingrad. Stalingrad was under siege by the Nazi’s for 160 days. Its conditions were described as being worse than hell. The people in besieged eastern Aleppo city have been living in similar conditions. They have been under siege for over 140 days, and are running drastically low on baby formula, food, fuel, medical supplies, and essential items for survival. Children and patients are dying because of extreme cold. Their last remaining stockpile of UN food rations was completely exhausted on November 13, there is no fully functioning hospital, and 31,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the past week. There is the potential that hostilities will significantly worsen due to aerial bombardments by Russia and the Syrian government, as well as ground attacks by the government and its allied militias. Yet aid convoys have been continually blocked from entering the city by the Syrian government. Eastern Aleppo city is only one of the nearly 40 communities under siege in Syria, where basic essentials, including medical care, are being denied to over one million Syrians. These sieges must end and immediate humanitarian access must be provided. In the past few weeks, due to the siege and intensified bombing, the humanitarian situation in eastern Aleppo city is beyond description.
The health workers who continue to prioritize the lives of others above their own must be protected. As physicians, we have taken an oath to protect and preserve life. We appeal to you as medical colleagues, who can understand the dire circumstances of living without healthcare. These attacks on civilians, healthcare, and civilian infrastructure must end. We cannot stand by while war crimes are allowed to continue with impunity.
We ask you to urge your government to allow humanitarian aid into besieged eastern Aleppo city, to allow medical evacuation of the sick and injured and secure humanitarian corridors from eastern Aleppo city under the oversight of ICRC and UN, to pressure the Syrian government to allow delivery of aid to other besieged cities in Syria, and to end both indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians, hospitals and schools across Syria.
We urge you to exert your moral influence and discharge your humanitarian duty.
Independent Doctors Association (IDA)
World Medical Association
Alseeraj for Development and Healthcare
Canadian International Medical Relief Organization (CIMRO)
Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Doctors Under Fire
Syrian NGO Alliance:
Binaa Organization for Development
Ghiras Al Nahda
Ghiras Foundation for Child Care
Hand in Hand for Aid and Development
Ihsan for Relief and Development
Masrat – The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement
Physicians Across Continents (PAC)
Social Development International (SDI)
Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA)
Sham Humanitarian Foundation
Dr. Abdulsalam Daeif, Turkey Country Director, Syria Relief and Development (SRD)
Takaful Alsham Organization
Union of Relief and Medical Care Organizations (UOSSM)