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UN Calls for Medical Protections in War Zones


In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens and firefighters gather at the scene where one of rockets hit the Dubeet hospital in the central neighborhood of Muhafaza in Aleppo, May 3, 2016.

The United Nations Security Council will meet Wednesday afternoon to be briefed on the situation in Syria following a week of renewed violence, particularly in Syria's second city Aleppo.

U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman will brief the council on Wednesday afternoon.

This follows the U.N. Security Council's approval of a resolution on Tuesday demanding all parties protect hospitals, health care providers, and medical facilities against violence and be held accountable in case they do not.

The action followed a series of deadly attacks on hospitals in war zones worldwide.

About 30 airstrikes by Syrian government warplanes and helicopter gunships hit rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo on April 30, killing at least five people. A rebel rocket attack struck a hospital in Aleppo Tuesday, killing at least three people.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, nearly 250 civilians have died in shelling, rocket fire and air raids in the city since April 22. Among those killed were at least 50 people in a hospital that was hit in an airstrike.

The resolution was drafted by council members New Zealand, Spain, Egypt, Japan, and Uruguay.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said every country must do more than just condemn attacks, and act to protect hospitals and staff and punish those responsible for such violence.

Last year, the United Nations verified 59 attacks against 34 hospitals, Ban said.

“Today, almost half of all medical facilities in Syria are now closed or only partially functioning. Millions of Syrians lack life-saving healthcare,” Ban said on Tuesday during a briefing in New York on health care in armed conflict.

He added that a similar pattern of systematic destruction of health facilities is evident in Yemen. More than 600 medical facilities have closed because of damage sustained in the conflict and shortages of supplies and medical workers.

In January of this year, coalition air strikes ini Yemen hit the Shiara Hospital, which serves around 120,000 people in Sa’ada Governorate.

Ban called the attacks “shameful and inexcusable.”