Aleppo Abandoned

A Case Study on Health Care in Syria

The Syrian government’s ongoing assault on health care is one of the most egregious the world has ever seen. PHR has documented the deaths of 687 medical personnel and 329 attacks on medical facilities from the beginning of the conflict through October 2015.

This report focuses specifically on the state of health care in eastern Aleppo city – the city hit hardest by such attacks – and tells a story of courage and resilience in the face of tremendous human suffering and loss. PHR’s findings illustrate that unlawful attacks on health have significantly degraded Aleppo’s health care system; more than two-thirds of the hospitals no longer function and roughly 95 percent of doctors have fled, been detained, or killed. However, the remaining medical personnel have persevered and manage to provide health care in the midst of a horrific war, despite minimal access to equipment and medication.

This report also points to the failure of the international community to stop these violations. The UN Security Council has failed to do its duty for more than four years, and, as a result, hundreds of Syrian medical personnel and thousands of their patients have lost their lives. Health workers in Aleppo understand the UN Security Council’s failure all too well. They live with the reality of disappeared colleagues and hospital attacks every day. Yet they have not given up hope, and they continue to ask for one simple thing: an end to the attacks on hospitals, medical personnel, patients, and civilians.

PHR chose Aleppo as a case study because it illustrates what a dedicated and resilient medical community can achieve in some of the worst circumstances. The story of Aleppo exemplifies the ingenuity and resolve of the many Syrians who have chosen to stand up for human rights and international law rather than surrender to tyranny.

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