News - UOSSM International

BREAKING: Hospitals Attacked During Holiday Season, 11 Attacks in Wave Of Violence

BREAKING: Hospitals Attacked During Holiday Season, 11 Attacks in Wave Of Violence Toronto, ON- The holiday season brought a new wave of attacks on medical facilities throughout Syria. There have been at least 11 separate attacks on medical facilities since December 26, 2017, targeting medical facilities in Idlib, Hama and Eastern Ghouta.  In the past 10 days, three paramedics have been killed in Eastern Ghouta and one nurse was killed in Northern Homs. In the strongest terms, UOSSM condemns the targeting of medical facilities/ staff and demands the UN investigate and prosecute perpetrators for war crimes.  “This fresh wave of attacks on medical facilities is sickening and unacceptable. These attacks force facilities to shut down, terrorize staff and result in undue hardship for patients already suffering. Since the beginning of the crisis, there have been hundreds of well-documented attacks on medical facilities in Syria. It’s shameful that there has never been a formal prosecution for these war crimes and it severely undermines the UN’s credibility.” Said Dr. Ghanem Tayara, UOSSM International Chairman and a Bristol GP   Medical Facility Attacks: January 3, 2018 At 11:30 am, for the third time within a week, the Al Salam maternity and pediatric hospital in Maarrat Al Numan, Idlib, was impacted by an airstrike resulting in structural damage and killing at least 1 patient in addition to injuring many more. Dr. Bashar Yousef, the only pediatric doctor at the hospital and a supervisor of the intensive care unit, was wounded. The facility was evacuated and went out of service. The hospital is the only maternity hospital in Maarrat Al Numan serving a population of roughly 500,000 and providing an average of 8,200 consultations monthly, had 915 admissions, 12 major surgeries, 295 deliveries and 225 C-sections. January 2, 2018 At 5 pm, The Al Magara Cave Hospital (surgical) in Kafr Zeita, Hama, was impacted by 3 airstrikes. The attack resulted in structural damage. No casualties were reported and the facility went out of service. The surgical hospital provides services to a catchment area of 50,000 a month, with 7,000 monthly beneficiaries, and provides 150 surgeries a month. UOSSM supported the emergency department of the hospital.  December 31, 2017 At 2:30 pm, A primary health care center in Haratsa in (Eastern Ghouta), Rural Damascus, was impacted by an airstrike. The attack resulted in minor structural damage. 2 nurses were injured and the facility remained open. December 31, 2017 At 12:55 pm, the Al Salam hospital in Maarrat Al Numan, Idlib, was impacted by an airstrike resulting in minor structural damages. The facility remained open. December 30, 2017 At 3:25 pm, a medical warehouse in Maarrat Al Numan, Idlib, was impacted by barrel bombs resulting in structural damage and the destruction of medical supplies, equipment and medicines. There were no injuries or casualties and the facility went out of service. December 30, 2017 A paramedic working for a hospital in Eastern Ghouta was killed as a result of artillery shelling in Harasta. December 29, 2017 At 10:10 pm, a hospital in Daraa was impacted by artillery shelling. The attack resulted in minor structural damages and damaged one medical vehicle. No casualties were reported and the facility remains open. December 28, 2017 At 10:30 am, a primary health care center in Maarrat Al Numan, Idlib was impacted by a nearby barrel bomb, which destroyed several windows and doors. The facility was put out of service. One woman was killed during the attack and 3 children were injured. December 28, 2017 At 2:10 PM, a hospital in Kafr Zeita in Hama was impacted by an air strike. The facility had minor damage and no casualties, and remained open. The hospital provided an average of: 929 consultations, 78 admissions, 36 surgeries and 35 war related trauma cases per month.  December 26, 2017 At 11:40 am, a hospital in Kafr Zeita in Hama was impacted by an airstrike. The attack caused minor damage to the building and no casualties were reported. The facility went temporarily out of service. The hospital provided an average of: 860 consultations, 90 admissions, 30 major surgeries and 19 war related trauma cases per month. December 26, 2017 At 12:50 pm, a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib was attacked by an air strike. The attack resulted in minor structural damages to the facility. No casualties were reported and the facility went out of service. The hospital provided an average of: 736 consultations, 34 admissions, 39 major surgeries and 8 war related trauma cases per month. Videos: Media inquiries and interviews please contact : Name: Avi D'Souza Global Director Of Communications Email: Phone: 001 (647) 528-5029

URGENT APPEAL: Medical Evacuation of Four-Year Old Rama in Eastern Ghouta

  UOSSM calls for the IMMEDIATE medical evacuation of four- year old Rama Helweh from Eastern Ghouta to Damascus where she received treatment eight months ago. Rama is malnourished, diagnosed with lymphoma and has a malignant tumor in her throat which prevents her from swallowing most foods. Her last dosage of the required medication was eight months ago. Without immediate treatment, doctors fear she will not survive the coming weeks. In the past two months, five children have died from a lack of adequate medical care as a result of the siege. Rama is 12 kg, has a brother and 2 sisters and is surviving on an IV line. "For the past eight months, I have tried everywhere to get the medicine for her but I can’t, it is not even available over here. ” said Diala Atout, Rama's mother. She added, “I go to the doctors every day and they tell me that the condition of the girl is more serious than before. I can no longer get the medicine or even the food which she needs to survive.” UOSSM calls on all parties to provide for the safe passage and immediate treatment of Rama, as per international humanitarian law. #save_rama


  Gaziantep, Turkey- UOSSM launches the ‘Syria Solar’ Initiative on May 29, 2017, after 10 weeks of installation and months of testing and monitoring. The 480-panel pilot project is the first of its kind in Syria, and was designed to stabilize electricity in hospitals in Syria. UOSSM installed 480 solar photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 127 kWp DC power, 288 batteries capable of storing 720kWh of power, and advanced data control systems. After six years of conflict, major sections of the electrical grid in Syria were destroyed making hospitals dependent on diesel generators. Frequent shortages of diesel jeopardized patient lives and skyrocketed the price of diesel fuel. The project is expected to save over 7,000 liters of diesel per month on average. This amounts to approximately 20-30% of the monthly energy cost of the hospital. The system can fully power the ICU, operating rooms and emergency departments during diesel outages. With the success of the pilot project, plans are drafted to deploy solar systems in five more vulnerable medical facilities in Syria. UOSSM is currently soliciting funding partners for upcoming ‘funding ready’ projects.  Renewable energy for those critical facilities will increase the resilience of the health-system in Syria, empower local communities, and help terminate the vicious cycle of the diesel-based war economy. “We believe that this type of projects brings hope. Solar energy is a democratizing force, that has the capacity to empower institutions and communities in very positive ways.  Syria is in one of the best regions globally to harvest solar energy, and needs to be leveraged. During the project implementation; restructuring the hospital electrical network, and working through the winter to deploy the technically complex system, were our greatest challenges. The goal now is to empower the health system by scaling the solar project to at least five other critical hospitals. Our dream is to see every medical facility in Syria running on clean, sustainable energy.” Said Tarek Makdissi, Project Director- UOSSM Syria Solar Initiative. “In our department, we have a total of 6 incubators. Electricity is critical for the functioning of these incubators. Electricity must be available continuously without shut down or cut-offs. Even if the electricity was to shut down for half an hour, it can cause severe problems. Children in incubators need a constant temperature.” Said Mohamad Dirbas, UOSSM Neonatal Nurse “This project is a symbol of hope for the Syrian people. We wanted to show the world that Syrians still believe in a brighter future and embrace positivity and progress.  The majority of the electrical infrastructure in Syria was either bombed, dismantled or destroyed. Hospitals depend on diesel generators and are vulnerable to outages and price surges. Incubators, respirators and other life saving equipment need stable access to power. Many patients have died from simple power outages. The solar project was desperately needed. I am over joyed that the project is running at full capacity and saving lives.  Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM- Canada and War Surgeon *Hospital name concealed for the protection of the staff and the facility. Website: Media inquiries and interviews please contact : Name: Avi D’Souza Global Director Of Communications Email: Phone: 001 (647) 528-5029 Project inquiries and interviews please contact: Name: Tarek Makdissi Project Director, UOSSM Syria Solar Email: Phone: +44 115 888 2099 Project Video:  Syria Solar Project Overview:    

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:

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: 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.