News / Middle East

    UN: Syria Attacking Hospitals as 'Weapon of War'

    Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, with destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, a result of government airstrikes, Nov. 2012 (file photo).
    Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, with destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, a result of government airstrikes, Nov. 2012 (file photo).
    Reuters
    Syrian government forces are bombing and shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas to stop sick and wounded getting treatment, acts which constitute war crimes, U.N. investigators said on Friday.
     
    Fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad purposefully denied people medical care as a “weapon of war,” they added in a report. They also had details of a smaller number of incidents when rebel forces attacked hospitals.
     
    “The pattern of attacks indicates that government forces deliberately targeted hospitals and medical units to gain military advantage by depriving anti-government armed groups and their perceived supporters of medical assistance,” the report said.
     
    The attacks started as violence mounted in Syria's civil war in early 2012 and were continuing, it added.
     
    Neither Assad's nor rebel forces immediately responded to the allegations, to be discussed on Monday in Geneva at a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
     
    The Syrian army has occupied hospitals, using them as bases for snipers, tanks and soldiers, according to the report. Ambulance drivers, nurses and doctors have been attacked, arrested, tortured or disappeared in “insidious” violations of international law.
     
    “Intentionally directing attacks against hospitals and places containing the sick and the wounded and against medical units using the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem is a war crime in non-international armed conflict,” the independent investigators said, referring to a legal term for civil war.
     
    Patients had also been beaten, burned with cigarettes and tortured to death in a military hospital in Mezze, Damascus, it said.
     
    The team of 20 human rights experts, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, was not allowed into Syria but interviewed more than 2,000 Syrian refugees, defectors, former patients and health staff in neighboring countries over the past two years.
     
    They also analyzed photographs, satellite images, and forensic and medical records, to document atrocities for possible future prosecution.
     
    'Harrowing accounts'
     
    “Victims relay harrowing accounts of the wounded and sick languishing at checkpoints unable to reach medical treatment, coming under renewed attack in hospital and doctors providing impartial aid being arrested and targeted,” the report said.
     
    Hospitals in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus, Deraa and Latakia have come under government shelling or aerial bombardment during the conflict that began with protests in March 2011, it added.
     
    Syrian security forces occupied the National Hospital in Deraa city for two years to March 2013 and positioned snipers on its roof who fired on sick and wounded trying to enter, the experts said.
     
    In Aleppo, Tal Rifat public hospital was destroyed by air strikes in April 2012 and field hospitals that tried to provide care were attacked by fighter jets from May to August, they added.
     
    Field hospitals in Deraa have been under constant shelling this year, killing doctors and patients, according to the report. “As such attacks continue, field hospitals have literally been driven underground, forced to operate in the basements of houses.”
     
    Although the scale of documented abuses by rebel forces appeared to be far smaller, there were increasing indications some armed groups failed to respect medical personnel and neutrality of health facilities, the report said.
     
    The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra group detained the head doctor of a field hospital in northern Aleppo city for several days in April 2013 after he refused to display their banner in the hospital, it said.
     
    The Free Syrian Army attacked the National Hospital in Deraa in May 2013, apparently because 50 patients were believed to be linked to the government, according to the report.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rob Robertson
    September 13, 2013 3:24 PM
    It is difficult to believe anything that is that is reported on because Syria is at war and there is lots of propaganda on both sides. I know better then then to take anything I read serious- Too may lies.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.