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Physicians for Human Rights Skeptical that Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Will Protect Civilians in Syria

For Immediate Release

Though the United States and Russia have announced a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria to go into effect Saturday, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) remains gravely concerned about continuing attacks on civilians.

Widney Brown, director of programs at PHR, said in response to the announcement: “What Syrians need is a cessation of attacks on civilians, and there is no evidence that this agreement effectively addresses the bombing of civilian facilities such as hospitals, which have been repeatedly targeted by Syrian and Russian forces under the pretext of attacking terrorist groups.”

The agreement exempts parties engaged in combatting the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and “other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council.”

Brown further noted: “With the long history of non-compliance with and lack of enforcement of UN resolutions aimed at protecting civilians in the Syrian conflict, we remain skeptical that this agreement will truly bring a ceasefire.”

According to PHR’s data, 2015 marked the worst year on record for attacks on medical facilities in Syria, with Syrian government and Russian forces responsible for most of the more than 120 attacks. Between March 2011 and December 2015, the latest month for which data is available, there were 346 attacks on 246 medical facilities, 91 percent of them committed by Syria and its allied forces.In the same period, 705 medical personnel were killed, with Syria and its allies responsible for 95 percent of the deaths. PHR tracks these findings in an interactive map, which includes photographic and video documentation of these crimes. In November, PHR released a report detailing the Syrian government’s attacks on health care, “Aleppo Abandoned: A Case Study on Health Care 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.

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