For Immediate Release
Russian officials today announced that their forces and those of their Syrian government allies would suspend bombing and other attacks on the city of Aleppo on Thursday for an eight-hour period. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has been documenting attacks on health care facilities and personnel since the conflict began in 2011, issued the following response, attributable to PHR Director of Programs Widney Brown:
“An eight-hour suspension of bombing is entirely insufficient to alleviate the suffering of east Aleppo city’s quarter million people. What the people of Aleppo need is an end to indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian areas, an end to the deliberate targeting of medical facilities—including pediatric clinics and maternity wards—and an end to the crippling siege of their city.
“East Aleppo’s residents have been asking for the delivery of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for months. They want to remain in their homes inside Aleppo without having to fear death by airstrikes, lack of medical supplies, or starvation. An eight-hour pause to the bombing will at most allow the evacuation of a few hundred and will do nothing to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands more who will remain in the city.
“The ongoing assault against medical care and civilian areas in Syria is a war crime, as is the intentional blocking of humanitarian supplies to a civilian population. Imposing an eight-hour suspension of hostilities—without any clear guarantees of safe passage out of the city—to supposedly permit civilians, the sick, and the wounded to leave cannot then be used as an excuse to continue the destruction of the city.
“Yet again, the Russian and Syrian governments are pretending to show compassion for those who are suffering, but those attempts ring hollow. They have absolutely no regard for international humanitarian law and no commitment to the safety and dignity of Syrians. They are only increasing and prolonging the suffering that hundreds of thousands endure each day in Syria. Shame on the Russian and Syrian governments – and shame on those who continue to stand by and look on as a predictable pattern of war crimes continues in Syria.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.