News - UOSSM International

Press Release: Kafr Zeta Surgical and Maternity Hospital Completely Destroyed

  The specialized surgical and maternity hospital in Kafr Zeta, Hama, was leveled this weekend after being attacked three times in 24 hours. The first attack happened on Friday April 28 at 4 p.m Damascus time causing damage to the facility and the outpatient clinics. The second attack happened on Saturday April 29 at 8:45 a.m. Damascus time. This attack caused major damage to the emergency department and injured one staff member. The third attack happened at 2 p.m. Damascus time on April 29 and  completely destroyed the facility. No fatalities or injuries were reported as the hospital was evacuated due to earlier attacks. The hospital provided 4,050 consultations, 100 natural birth deliveries, 40 C-sections, 280 major surgeries, and 66 war related trauma cases a month. The hospital was built and donated by Dr. Hassan Al-Araj, a cardiologist, who was killed in a targeted attack of the Cave Hospital in Hama one year ago in April. Dr. Al-Araj wanted the specialty hospital to provide free medical care to the people in the area. Dr. Ahmad Dbais, UOSSM Safety and Security Director and a close colleague of the late Dr. Al-Araj said: “Despite the countless attacks, Dr. Al- Araj was insistent that they continue operating the hospital because he wanted to serve the people who needed it most. Every time a window would break or the hospital would get damaged, he would personally make sure it was repaired. Dr. Al-Araj left his family in Turkey and insisted on physically being at the hospital to see his patients. He would always tell me this hospital must remain open to serve the people, it was the only one, and he was the only cardiologist in the area. The hospital was attacked more than most facilities in Syria. He was constantly working to fortify the hospital; with dirt, with concrete, and any way he could to keep the staff and patients safe.  Dr. Al-Araj was a true hero who gave his life to serve others.” Dr. Dbais added, “We wanted to keep this hospital running to fulfill the legacy of Dr. Al-Araj. He made a deep impact on anyone who knew him and worked with him. It is such a tragedy to see his hospital destroyed, but we will continue to fulfill the legacy of this hero. Doctors and staff will continue their work and new hospitals will be built.” Attacks on medical facilities continue in all areas of Syria. Today, May 1, at 11 a.m. Damascus time, the Arbeen Surgical Hospital in eastern Ghouta was attacked and put out of service after the four-story building next to the hospital collapsed on the facility. Three civilians were killed (two children and a woman) and tens of civilians were wounded. The hospital provided an average of 1,400 consultations and 125 major surgeries a month.    On April 29 at 12:30 p.m. Damascus time, the Kafr Zeta Civil Defense Center (White Helmets) was attacked killing eight staff. The facility was put out of service. On Friday, April 28, at 1 a.m. Damascus time the Nuaymah Hospital in Daraa was attacked and put out of service. Hospital attacks in April:  April 2- Maarat Nouman Hospital-Idlib  April 4 and 16- Mercy Hospital Khan Sheikhoun-Idlib  April 7 and 8 -Heish Clinic-Idlib  April 17- Ikhlas Hospital Shnan-Idlib April 17- Erbin Hospital Eastern Ghouta April 22 -Central Hospital Abdin- Idlib April 25- Kafr Takharim Hospital- Idlib April 26- Naseeb Hospital -Daraa April 26- Al Latamneh Hospital- Hama April 27- University Hospital East Deir-Idlib April 27- SAMS Ambulance and Evacuation Medical Point Maar Zeta- Idlib April 27- Shamuna Ambulance and Evacuation System Maar Zeta-Idlib April 28- Women's Hospital Kafr Takhareem-Northern Idlib April 29- Al Nuaymeh Hospital-Daraa April 28, 29 Kafr Zeta Specialized Surgical and Maternity Hospital - Hama Suburbs A picture of Dr. Dbais (left) with the late Dr. Al-Araj, (right) in front of emergency entrance to the hospital, which he covered with dirt to fortify the building.  The emergency entrance to the hospital after it was completely destroyed.      

JOINT STATEMENT: Wave of Hospital Bombings Paralyzes Medical System in Idlib, Syria

  Gaziantep, Turkey- On behalf of the largest national medical NGO's in Syria; UOSSM (Union Of Medical Care and Relief Organizations), SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), SBMS (Syrian British Medical Society- UOSSM Member), Syria Relief (UOSSM Member), AHF (Al Sham Humanitarian Foundation , SIMRO (Sustainable International Medical Relief Organization), IDA (Independent Doctors Association), SEMA (Syrian Expatriate Medical Association), we demand that the United Nations take immediate action to protect medical facilities and civilians in Idlib and all of Syria. Furthermore, we call for the immediate investigation and prosecution of war crimes and atrocities committed against civilians and medical staff. The systematic killing of medical staff, children, and civilians must be stopped before it is too late.  Eight medical facilities in Idlib were deliberately attacked in April, paralyzing the medical infrastructure and leaving thousands without access to medical care. Numerous other hospitals throughout Syria were also attacked in April.   A surgical specialty hospital was attacked at 5:30 a.m. Damascus time on April 27, by four airstrikes, killing three and wounding several others. The hospital was heavily damaged and put out of service.  An ambulance and evacuation medical point in Maar Zeta, Idlib was attacked at 9 a.m. Damascus time on April 27, destroying the facility. Two paramedics were killed. In response to the attack, another ambulance system was assisting in the evacuation and the point was attacked again killing two more paramedics. Eight ambulances were destroyed.  A total of 14 people were killed today throughout Idlib. All of which were children and medical staff.   Medical Facility Attacks in April: • April 2- Maarat Nouman Hospital-Idlib • April 4 and 16- Mercy Hospital Khan Sheikhoun-Idlib • April 7 and 8 -Heish Clinic-Idlib • April 17- Ikhlas Hospital Shnan-Idlib • April 17- Erbin Hospital Eastern Ghouta • April 22 -Central Hospital Abdin- Idlib • April 25- Kafr Takharim Hospital- Idlib • April 26- Naseeb Hospital -Daraa • April 26- Al Latamneh Hospital- Hama • April 27- University Hospital East Deir-Idlib • April 27- SAMS Ambulance and Evacuation Medical Point Maar Zeta- Idlib • April 27- Shamouna ambulance system in Maarzeita Zeita (Idlib)

PRESS RELEASE: Child Killed After Surgery By Heavy Airstrikes Against Cave Hospital

The last remaining hospital in the northern region of Hama and southern suburbs of Idlib was attacked twice and put out of service on April 22. The cave hospital was hit at 2:30 p.m. and again at 5:15 p.m Damascus time by a bunker buster missile. Five people were killed, including a girl who had just had surgery in the morning, her parents and two other patients. Two nurses were wounded, one with a severe spinal injury. The hospital, which was built in a cave 22 feet underground in response to previous targeting by military aircrafts, was catastrophically damaged. The airstrike destroyed two operating theatres, a laboratory, two inpatient rooms, emergency room, x-ray machines and C-arm. These attacks have left the people in the southern Idlib/ northern Hama suburbs without any access to healthcare as all six area hospitals have been attacked and put out of service. These area hospitals combined, provided services to over 20,000 people, over 1000 major surgeries, and over 120 caesarean section surgeries per month.  The Hama Health Directorate said in a statement, “We fear area doctors and medical staff will flee the area due to the constant attack of hospitals and medical facilities which could ultimately lead to the complete collapse of the healthcare system in the area”   “That a child can be murdered right after having surgery is beyond sickening. Children and the most vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of this horrific war. We must do more to protect them. Attacking hospitals is a war crime and we call on the United Nations to take immediate action to protect medical facilities and hold perpetrators accountable for these deliberate attacks.” Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada

PRESS RELEASE : Child and Maternity Hospital Hit by Airstrikes 3 Times

 A Syria Relief child and maternity hospital in Idlib was targeted yesterday at 1:05 p.m. Damascus time, by three airstrikes causing extensive damage to the facility.  No fatalities or serious injuries were reported. At least five medical staff were wounded including a gynecologist and an anesthesiologist who were in the middle of an operation when the hospital was attacked. The doctor was quickly able to sew the mother up and the patient and baby were not harmed in the attack. The hospital suffered extensive damage to operating rooms and lab facilities and was put out of service. Syria Relief is a member of the 'Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM).  Another hospital was attacked yesterday in the suburbs of Damascus, killing one paramedic, causing damage to the facility, and putting it out of service. One ambulance was partially damaged as well.  Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada said, “It is sickening that pediatric and maternity hospitals are being targeted. We were lucky that there were no mothers or children killed, but there very well could have been. These attacks are deliberate against hospitals (non-military targets) and perpetrators must be held accountable for war crimes."    

PRESS RELEASE: UOSSM Hospital Treats 114 People From Convoy Attack -Al Rashideen

UOSSM staff have been working tirelessly to treat 114 people injured from the convoy attack in Al Rashideen. On April 15 at 3:30 P.M. Damascus time, a large explosion in Al Rashideen hit a convoy of evacuees coming from Kefraya and Foah.  The carnage caused by the attack has left 126 dead including over 50 children. 114 of the 273 people injured were transferred to UOSSM’s largest hospital in the North of Syria for emergency care.  The transferred patients included over 20 children and 53 women. Five children succumbed to their injuries.  UOSSM provided treatment to all patients and referred critical cases to specialized hospitals in Turkey. UOSSM had 10 ambulances dedicated to the evacuation efforts. Several NGO staff were injured by the blast including two UOSSM staff.In the strongest possible terms, UOSSM condemns this attack and the wonton violence against civilians. UOSSM reiterates its commitment to impartiality, neutrality and humanitarian service by providing free medical aid to the people of Syria regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.  That over 50 children have died and scores more are left permanently maimed and mutilated is unacceptable by any standard of decency. UOSSM calls on ALL parties to take responsibility for these atrocities and consequent suffering levied against families and civilians. All parties must work sincerely towards a peaceful resolution. The past few weeks have seen a drastic escalation of phosphorous, napalm and barrel bomb attacks against civilians. These attacks must stop and International Humanitarian Law must be enforced.The UN and impartial international observers must take a more active role to protect civilians and prioritize their safety.       

Press Release: UOSSM’s Response To Khan Sheikhoun Attack

On April 4th, a chemical agent was dropped on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, Syria. The nerve gas killed over 100 people including over 25 children and injured hundreds more.UOSSM’s Response:UOSSM staff were among the first responders to the attack. 38 victims, of which six were children and 12 were women, were brought to a UOSSM hospital to receive immediate treatment. 27 victims in critical condition were then transferred to specialized medical facilities in Turkey. Four patients admitted to UOSSM's hospital died from the attack. Patients were treated with oxygen, Atropine, Diazepam and Hydrocortisone. Medicine and Supplies Distributed:UOSSM purchased and distributed 10,000 ampoules of Atropine to 18 hospitals in Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Latakia.The WHO provided UOSSM with 3,500 ampoules of Atropine, 1,000 ampoules of Pralidoxime, Salbutamol and Dexamethasone to be distributed to hospitals and medical points in: Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, Latakia for chemical attack preparedness. A convoy of emergency aid arrived in Syria on Sunday April 9 from UOSSM France in collaboration with the French Government, Turkish Government and the Red Crescent. The medicine and equipment is being distributed to hospitals across Syria.The Aid Convoy Contained:•           500 ampoules of Atropine (antidote for nerve agent)•           500 ampoules of Pralidoxime•           500 ampoules of Diazepam•           100 protective facemasks •           100 chemical suits•           224 decontamination filtersChemical Weapon Response Training:UOSSM organized intensive training for chemical weapons response for Syrian hospital staff in: staff safety procedures, decontamination, emergency care and hospitalization of victims. The training was led by Dr. Raphaël Pitti, a French professor, UOSSM France Board Member and specialist in war medicine. Mobile clinics are also distributing brochures and meeting medical staff for chemical weapon preparedness. UOSSM is setting up chemical attack first response areas inside hospitals throughout Syria to decontaminate injured patients and provide treatment.Dr. Tammam Lodami, Northern Syria Medical Director for UOSSM estimates 70,000 ampoules of Atropine, 5,000 ampoules of Pralidoxime and 350 chemical suits are needed just to prepare the 70 hospitals in the North of Syria for chemical attacks.How Have Your Donations Helped?Through your generous donations, we have been able to send life-saving antitoxins and protective equipment for doctors and staff along with implementing training programs. Our goal is to ensure that all hospitals in Syria have the necessary medicine and training to respond to any future attacks. Our recent hospital report revealed that less then half of all Syrian hospitals are prepared for chemical weapons attacks. We need your help:Please Donate & Share: Donate Here: www.uossm-canada.org/donate

BREAKING: Idlib Chemical Attack Kills 100 Including 25 Children And Injures Over 400

Approximately 100 people have been killed and at least 400 wounded by a chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. Today, at 6:30 a.m. Damascus time, warplanes dropped a chemical weapon on the neighborhood of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib. At least 25 of the victims were children. Three UOSSM medical staff were affected by the attack, and rushed to the ICU, while treating patients. Medical facilities are overwhelmed with patients and unequipped to handle chemical attacks of this magnitude.  Victims are experiencing the following symptoms: •Redness of the eyes •Foaming from the mouth •Myosis •Face cyanosis •Severe dyspnoea •Asphyxiation "Today's gas attacks on children and civilians is inexcusable and the international community should take responsibility for their years of inaction. The international community must do everything in their power to immediately prosecute perpetrators for war crimes. There have been over 170 reported chemical attacks in Syria since the UN Security Council passed  resolution 2118 in September 2013, outlawing chemical weapons in Syria. A massive investment must be made to prepare all medical facilities for these attacks and equip civilians with protective equipment. I am horrified and sickened that these attacks keep happening every week." Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem Many area hospitals have been attacked and put out of service, significantly complicating the situation: On April 3, Kafer Nabel hospital was attacked, one doctor was killed, and the facility was put out of service.  On April 2, the Maarat Al Nouman Central Hospital, the largest and best equipped hospital in the region, was attacked and put out of service.  Media inquiries and interviews please contact : Name: Avi D'Souza Global Director Of Communications Email: press@uossm-canada.org Phone: 001 (647) 528-5029   Chemical Weapons Laws and UN Resolutions: •There have been over 200 reported chemical weapons attacks since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.  •This attack is a direct violation of the UNSC resolutions 1540 (2004), and 2118 (September 27, 2013). •The UNSC Resolution 2118 prohibits the use of any type of chemical weapon in Syria.   •Since the passing of UNSC 2118, there have been 170 chemical attacks in Syria. Syrian Hospital Surveillance Report: The attack comes a day after UOSSM issued the "Syrian Hospital Surveillance Report", the most comprehensive of its kind.  It was specifically pointed out that over 50% of hospitals are not equipped to deal with chemical attacks.  Key findings of the Syrian Hospitals Surveillance Report:  All 107 hospitals examined in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hammah, Daraa, Quneitra, and Homs were hit at least once by a direct or indirect airstrikes. Some hospitals were struck as many as 25 times. The average hospital was attacked three times.  Three-quarters of the hospitals surveyed were located in buildings not designed to house medical facilities and were in fact makeshift hospitals, ill-equipped to provide the needed medical care.     More than half of all hospitals’ staff had no training to prepare for or respond to airstrikes, or to document airstrikes; and one third of hospital staff had no experience in occupational safety or risk management. There is an alarming scarcity of medical specialties like vascular surgery, neurosurgery, and plastic surgery, and the relevant equipment needed. As a result of this data, UOSSM for the first time concludes that new measures are urgently needed to protect hospitals and medical workers from aerial attacks. The full report can be found here. Note to Editors: UOSSM's report was made possible thanks to the many Syrian medical directorates and organizations active on the ground to save lives. 

Press Release: Doctors Warn of Intensifying Airstrikes on Syrian Hospitals

  April 3, 2017 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Toronto, ON- Ahead of the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the region, Syrian doctors have released a new report documenting a major increase in airstrikes on Syrian hospitals and medical facilities in opposition-held areas. The study, issued by the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, examines the conditions of 107 hospitals in northern and southern Syria and reveals that all were hit by airstrikes at least once in 2016 – some as many as 25 times. “Our report is the most comprehensive of its kind – and its results are shocking,” Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM-Canada said. “We have long suspected Syrian hospitals were deliberate targets of airstrikes – our report confirms this. There is now overwhelming evidence that the targeting of Syrian hospitals is not accidental, but is in fact a deliberate military strategy.  There can no longer be any question:  the parties that control Syria’s skies are deliberately attacking Syria’s medical facilities. Since Article 14 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly names hospitals as protected zones, the 289 attacks on the Syrian Hospitals are war crimes, and the UN is mandated to take actions to stop these attacks now.” He added. Following the release of the UOSSM report, Syrian doctors are calling on leaders gathering in Brussels to protect Syrian hospitals from indiscriminate airstrikes and to take further measures to ensure sustainable medical access to hard-to-reach and besieged communities.  “As the international community prepares to gather in Brussels, we call on the European Union and it’s members to take urgent action to protect Syria’s medical facilities. If a meaningful political solution is to be achieved, then the flagrant attacks on Syria’s hospitals - like those which occurred throughout this past week - must end and a serious ceasefire must be established. This requires impartial monitoring by the United Nations and credible enforcement - otherwise indiscriminate attacks will continue." “While hosting our annual conference in Geneva and as we prepared to release our report, a hospital was hit by three airstrikes and rendered inoperable in Kafr Nabel, Idlib. In Hama on 25 March, chemical weapons were dropped from a helicopter, killing a dedicated surgeon while he operated on a patient. These attacks are a stain on all humanity and a shameful reminder of the international community's inaction to protect Syrian medical facilities," Dr. Tawfik Chamaa, President UOSSM-Suisse said. Key findings of the Syrian Hospitals Surveillance Report:  All 107 hospitals examined in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hammah, Daraa, Quneitra, and Homs were hit at least once by a direct or indirect airstrikes. Some hospitals were struck as many as 25 times. The average hospital was attacked three times.  Three-quarters of the hospitals surveyed were located in buildings not designed to house medical facilities and were in fact makeshift hospitals, ill-equipped to provide the needed medical care.     More than half of all hospitals’ staff had no training to prepare for or respond to airstrikes, or to document airstrikes; and one third of hospital staff had no experience in occupational safety or risk management. There is an alarming scarcity of medical specialties like vascular surgery, neurosurgery, and plastic surgery, and the relevant equipment needed. As a result of this data, UOSSM for the first time concludes that new measures are urgently needed to protect hospitals and medical workers from aerial attacks. The full report can be found here. Note to Editors: UOSSM's report was made possible thanks to the many Syrian medical directorates and organizations active on the ground to save lives.   

Press Release: Medical Facility In Kafr Nabudah, Hama, Attacked and Put Out of Service

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 28, 2017 Washington, DC- A UOSSM supported medical facility in Hama was put out of service today after it was hit by a rocket. The UOSSM Kafr Nabudah Medical Facility was attacked at approximately 1:30 p.m. Damascus time, causing damage to the building, and putting it out of service. There was one minor injury to a staff member.  The building, foundation, generator, doors, windows and walls were all damaged, according to the Hama Health Directorate.  In the past four months, the medical facility provided services to over 30,000 people, follow up treatment to over 5,000 patients a month, and emergency care to over 6,000 families.  Recently, the center was also providing treatment for leishmaniasis. There has been a sharp increase in medical facility attacks in the past month, destroying facilities and leaving large populations without access to medical care. In a recent study conducted by UOSSM of 107 hospitals examined in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hammah, Deraa, Quneitra, and Homs, all were hit at least once by direct or indirect airstrikes. Some hospitals were struck as many as 25 times.  Dr. Khaula Sawah, board member of UOSSM USA said, “This is very disturbing news as many people throughout the area relied on this medical facility to receive emergency and non-emergency medical care, now they no longer have access.  This is a huge loss for the people and the internally displaced in the area. We have repeatedly condemned attacks on medical facilities to no avail. We call on the UN, the international community and all other responsible parties to demand an end to this type of violence and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions which are war crimes.” Dr. Khaula Sawah is available for interviews:For media inquiries please contact Communications and Media Director: Najah Allouch: press@uossm.us                                

BREAKING: Syrian Doctor Killed By Chemical Weapon While Operating On Patient

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 25, 2017 A doctor was killed today by a chemical agent while operating on a patient. A barrel bomb with a chemical agent hit the front entrance of the Latamneh Hospital in Hama and entered causing severe respiratory and neurological injuries to many staff members. The gas attack killed Dr. Ali Darwish, a specialist orthopedic surgeon, while he was in the operating room. Dr. Darwish, aware of the gas that had entered, refused to leave his patient and continued operating until he fell unconscious and succumbed to pulmonary edema. Victims showed symptoms consistent with chemical agents.All the medical staff in the hospital, in addition to the ambulance staff (drivers and paramedics) were affected by inhaling the gas which spread into the hospital rooms. The hospital was not equipped with a suitable ventilation system, nor was there enough oxygen to deal with the large number of victims having trouble breathing. The affected staff and the patients were evacuated to nearby hospitals. Moderate cases were managed while five cases were so severe that they were referred to a more distant hospital where an ICU was available.Hama Health Directorate declared that the hospital was completely out of service. This is the fourth hospital to be put out of service in the Hama governorate in the past month due to a heavy aerial bombardment, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to the health services. Another hospital in Kafr Nobol, Idlib was attacked multiple times by airstrikes rendering it out of service. No casualties have been reported. The facility provides 1,600 consultations, 176 admissions, 150 major surgeries and 630 trauma cases.“It is a repulsive act to target the most vulnerable people, patients in a hospital, with chemical weapons. Dr. Darwish is a true hero and we offer our deepest condolences to his family. His courage and commitment is consistent with all the healthcare workers in Syria who risk their lives every day to serve patients. The OPCW is failing it’s mandate at investigating and preventing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The targeting of healthcare workers must stop and perpetrators must be held accountable for war crimes. The inaction and impotence of the international community to protect healthcare workers is an embarrassment.” Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada  Media inquiries and interviews please contact  : Name: Avi D'Souza Global Global Director Of Communications Email: press@uossm.org Phone: 001 (647) 528-5029