Syrians look underground for medical care


September 11, 2014

underground-hospitals

CARE IN THERE: The Syrian regime has targeted medical and relief workers since the beginning of the war, killing thousands and driving others to leave the country, a fact documented by the UN and international humanitarian organizations.

Syrians have responded by constructing clinics in obscure, well-protected locales, such as this facility being dug into a rock face—at an undisclosed location in FSA-held territory—which is slated to become a hospital modeled after an underground mine.

“Since the beginning of Syria’s unrest, government forces have strategically assaulted hospitals and medical units to deprive persons perceived to be affiliated with the opposition of medical care,” the United Nations Human Rights Council wrote in an September 2013 report.

The hospital shown here is being built by the IHH Humanitarian Foundation, an Istanbul-based NGO that provides humanitarian relief in disaster zones.

The IHH plans to build of a series of such hospitals in FSA-controlled territory across Hama, Aleppo and Idlib provinces over the next four months, according to Amir Adil Ghoul, an IHH official, who was quoted in the pro-opposition Syrian weekly Ainab Balady.

This past August alone, 22 medical workers, among them 10 doctors, were killed by the regime or allied militias, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The cumulative result has been disastrous: Whereas “Syria once had a strong health infrastructure, now two out of five hospitals…no longer function,” said Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, in January during remarks at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference on Syria.

Deterioration of medical care has coincided with the outbreak of a series of public health crises.

Since the revolution began, Syria has witnessed a spread in measles, typhoid and viral hepatitis in addition to the reappearance of polio 14 years after it was eradicated, the UN’s Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) wrote in a report released Wednesday.

-September 11, 2014

-Photo courtesy of enab baladi.

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