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Aid groups urge protection of Syrian medical facilities

Hague warns Syria threatens to tear itself apart

Agence France-Presse . Manama

People react next to dead bodies as they stand at the back of a truck near a site hit by what activists say was an air raid from forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in Raqqa, eastern Syria on Saturday. — Reuters photoPeople react next to dead bodies as they stand at the back of a truck near a site hit by what activists say was an air raid from forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in Raqqa, eastern Syria on Saturday. — Reuters photo

The officials from organisations with health-related missions in Syria called on Friday for the protection of medical facilities and personnel there.
A joint statement by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the UN’s humanitarian operations ‘strongly condemned’ attacks on health facilities.
The organisations said they were ‘deeply concerned by the serious implications for patients, health personnel and provision of critical medical supplies.’
The statement was made by UNICEF director Anthony Lake, WHO chief Margaret Chan and UN humanitarian operations chief Valerie Amos.
Attacks against health facilities, they warned, can be considered war crimes under international law.
‘Over 60 per cent of public hospitals have been damaged or are out of service, while a similar proportion of ambulances have been stolen or badly damaged,’ the three said.
‘At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities be protected and medical staff be allowed to provide urgent medical, surgical and obstetric care,’ the statement said.
Despite difficulties, the UN and partners have helped vaccinate more than 3.3 million children against measles and polio in recent weeks and have provided reproductive and maternal health services to more than 8,000 women, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, warned on Friday that the conflict in Syria threatens to tear the country apart completely unless a solution is found in 2014.
‘If the conflict continues, Syria itself could disintegrate and with extremism growing create ungoverned space in the heart of the Middle East,’ he said at the opening of the annual Manama Dialogue on security.




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