News - UOSSM International

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    

PRESS RELEASE: Over 5 Million Syrians Without Water For 30 Days

Washington DC-  The bombing of the Ayn al Feeja water facility in Wadi Barada on December 24 has left over 5 million people without fresh, running water for the past 30 days. Concerns are growing over a health epidemic with a sharp rise in severe gastrointestinal cases, according to a doctor from Ibn Nafis Hospital in Damascus. The price for a box of six water bottles has skyrocketed to 1000 Syrian Layras.A fierce bombardment continues to affect the villages of Wadi Barada. According to a representative from the Wadi Barada Media Council, on Friday one medical staff was killed, the executive director of the medical council was wounded, and an ambulance was targeted and destroyed by artillery shelling as it was transporting the wounded through an area supposedly under a ceasefire agreement.  The continued targeting of Wadi Barada with heavy artillery and barrel bombings, has led to more damage to the Ayn al Feeja water facility. An orthopedic surgeon from Damascus said, “We are very concerned that over 5 million people in Damascus have not had access to clean water for a month. The situation could lead to a catastrophe as the risk of hepatitis A, cholera and parasitic diseases rise due to large populations using contaminated water. Water is life and people need to have this basic human necessity to survive. We are concerned that we are not able to access people in besieged areas. We have a medical staff member who walks for 8 ½ miles to communicate the situation in Wadi Barada with us.  This is absolutely unacceptable.” While the people of Aleppo have been evacuated from the besieged area, many people throughout Syria are suffering greatly, with no access to food, water or medical care. A lack of communication and information from these areas has made it extremely difficult to perform needs assessments, assess medical facility capacity, and receive accurate numbers of those injured and killed from daily attacks. The lives of hundreds of thousands in besieged areas are still in danger. In Deir Ezzor thousands of civilians are trapped in the crossfire. The shortage of doctors in the area has left many without any access to medical care.Dr. Khaula Sawah of UOSSM USA said, “Hundreds of thousands of lives are still in danger and we must not forget them, Wadi Barada is the new Aleppo, with a brutal besiegement and a brutal bombardment of the area. Many are being wounded in these attacks and we have no way of getting to them, they are living without the basic necessities of life including water, food and access to medical care, this is a denial of basic human rights and is unacceptable. We call on the international community to ensure water facilities in Wadi Barada are repaired immediately, and humanitarian aid delivered to civilians in Wadi Barada, Deir Ezzor, and in other besieged areas throughout Syria.”Dr. Sawah added, “We hope that the meeting in Astana today is a promising step towards peace, stability and safety of the people of Syria. We urge the international community and the UN to send international observers and blue helmets to Syria, especially in the besieged areas to ensure the safety of civilians and fair and safe access to basic human needs.  -Dr. Khaula Sawah is available for interviews:For media inquiries please contact Communications and Media Manager: Najah Allouch: press@uossm.us

Press Release: Damascus Water Shortage Risks Pandemic

For Immediate Release December 30, 2016 UOSSM is deeply concerned with the water shortage in Damascus which puts 4 million civilians at great risk. The two primary sources of drinking water- Wadi Barada and Ain-el-Fijah which provide water for 70 percent of the population of Damascus, were attacked and heavily damaged. They have not been operational since December 22. The lack of water and price gouging of commercially available water (reports as high as 500 Syrian Pounds per litre) are forcing a large percentage of the population to drink substandard water. There is  a significant risk of a water borne disease pandemic; microbial parasites, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera. The  current medical infrastructure is not equipped to handle a pandemic of this scale.  UOSSM urges the international community to immediately provide water, sanitation and hygiene aid to the people of Damascus. We also strongly condemn using water, a basic human need, as a weapon. Media inquiries and interviews please contact  :  Name: Avi D'SouzaGlobal Director Of Communications Phone: 1 (647) 528-5029Email: press@uossm.org  

Press Release: Aleppo Evacuation Report/ Urgent Child Protection

Thousands of people from Aleppo were evacuated today through the enormous efforts of 14 NGO’s bringing the total to approximately 20,000 evacuated. The majority of the evacuees were children, women and families. Among the children was Bana Al Abed, the seven-year-old girl, who’s twitter account went viral (@alabedbana), providing updates about the horrors of living in besieged Aleppo.  Yesterday, Bana was received and protected by UOSSM’s evacuation and child protection team, and accompanied by the Head of the International Trauma Committee for UOSSM to a safe undisclosed location. Many children have been evacuated but so many more remain vulnerable and in desperate need. In November alone, 183 of the 694 civilians who died were under the age of five according to a UOSSM medical report.  Causes of death were direct airstrikes and a lack of medical capacity. UOSSM Safety and Security Director Dr. Ahmad Al-Dbis, who has been at the evacuation cross point since last Thursday, spoke with other children that gave heartbreaking testimony. Kauthar, a second grader, was another child sitting on a chair alone, with a wound on her chin, a broken hand, and wounded chest. She lost her father to the brutal war along with her grandmother and aunt. UOSSM operated 21 vehicles and 5 advanced ambulances from Qatar Charity as part of a 171 vehicle NGO convoy in the Aleppo evacuation. 18 UOSSM vehicles were equipped for critical medical cases and 8 vehicles for minor medical cases. UOSSM had 195 staff and volunteers (120 staff/ 75 volunteers) assisting the evacuation and receiving the displaced in mobile clinics. The workers/ volunteers were comprised of: paramedics, drivers, logistics, administrative workers, and psychological care workers. UOSSM is deeply concerned by the lack of shelter, food, medical capacity and infrastructure to accommodate the influx of displaced peoples. National NGO’s are doing their best to accommodate but there is an IMMEDIATE need for international NGO’s to build and run this infrastructure. Displaced populations from Aleppo are EXTREMELY vulnerable to air strikes/ attack on IDP camps.  6 months ago the Atmeh camp was hit by airstrikes and 18 civilians were killed and the camp tents burned. We call for IMMEDIATE and exhaustive monitoring and protection of the displaced by the UN and international community.  "When I see Bana I picture my own children. I can't tell you how overjoyed I was to see her safe. The sad reality is there are thousands more children like her that need immediate aid and evacuation. The freezing conditions are a real threat to their survival along with the old and sick. The situation is so volatile that we must have independent UN monitors on the ground ASAP and safe places for evacuees to arrive too." Said Dr. Gahnem Tayara, Chairman of UOSSM International. Media inquiries and interviews please contact  : *Dr. Ghanem Tayara is available for interview Name: Dr. Ghanem Tayara  Chairman of UOSSM International Email:  press@uossm.org    

Joint Press Conference: Aleppo Emergency Medical Response

Where:  Baytna Syria   Gazi Muhtar Paşa Bul. Değirmiçem Mahallesi,14 Nolu Sk. 56 Efes İş Merkezi No:1, Gaziantep, Turkey  https://goo.gl/maps/pqxIAhttp://baytnasyria.org/en/home/https://www.facebook.com/baytnasyria/Venue Information: Omar Al Khani- +90 535 361 1303Assad Al- Achi - +90 534 858 5322 RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/press-conference-aleppo-emergency-medical-response-tickets-30272757633Who: Members of the press and the medical community are invited. When:  4 P.M. on Thursday, December 15, 2016 Where:  Baytna Syria, Gaziantep - Turkey  Interviews: Doctors from inside Syria and medical experts from Syria's largest NGOs: UOSSM -Union des Organisations de Secours et Soins Médicaux SAMS- Syrian American Medical Society SEMA - Syrian Expatriate Medical Association SRD – Syria Relief & Development SHAAM – Shaam Relief Foundation IDA- Independent Doctors Association Syria PAC- Physicians Across Continents Why: All hospitals have been destroyed in Aleppo. Over 100,000 people are fleeing Aleppo this week. Many critically injured/ vulnerable people require immediate medical evacuation. Aid/ NGO workers and their families require immediate protection and evacuation given their systematic targeting and assassination.Contact:Douaa Alhariri, Marketing Coordinator  UOSSM Intl.Phone: +90 506 668 6224Email: promotion@uossm.org Avi D’Souza, Global Director of CommunicationsUOSSM Intl.Phone:  001 (647) 528-5029 – CanadaEmail: press@uossm.orgPLEASE RSVP, SPACE IS LIMITEDRSVP: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/press-conference-aleppo-emergency-medical-response-tickets-30272757633Press Kit & Files:https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1oIZsVkfBsxdjk5M0ZXYThXdWs?usp=sharingVIDEO CONFERENCE OF MEETING:Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/672476318Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll):  +14086380968,672476318# or +16465588656,672476318#Or Telephone:    Dial: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll    Meeting ID: 672 476 18    International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=PeDTLWZ1Y2SnIXDA6872BzaypdVGepOG

BREAKING: Chemical Weapons Attack Kills 93, Injures Over 300

A chemical agent attack was reported today in the eastern suburbs of Hama in the Aqeerbat area. At least 93 civilians have been killed and over 300 wounded. The attacks happened at approximately 6:30 a.m. on December 12 Damascus time amidst heavy airstrikes which lasted over an hour.  Aljarrouh Village: 35 Dead Alsalalieh Village: 43 Dead Hamada Omar Village: 7 Dead Alkastal Village: 2 Dead Alkhouderah Village 6 Dead Many of the victims were children. Victims exposed to the odorless, colorless gas experienced symptoms including: dilated pupils, convulsions, extreme dry cough, bloody secretions, suffocation, nausea and vomiting. The victims that were killed died very quickly, had foaming of the mouth and no signs of physical injury. Casualty numbers are high due to shortages of medical staff with chemical weapons response training. The attacks coincided with a “Humanitarian Ultimatum” issued by President Francois Hollande of France, demanding the safety of 100,000 people fleeing Aleppo and for the safe passage of humanitarian aid to those in desperate need. The statement came after a meeting with Dr. Ziad Alissa -President of UOSSM France, Professor Raphael Pitti- Board Member of the UOSSM France, the President of MSF and the President of MDM. UOSSM is disgusted by the vulgarity of these attacks against children and civilians. We ask the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons) to fulfill it’s mandate and launch an immediate investigation into this attack and hold perpetrators responsible for war crimes (UNSC-R 2118, UNSC-R 2209).  100,000 civilians in eastern Aleppo are confided to a very small area, under constant and relentless bombardment, with no access to medical or humanitarian aid. Many of those civilians are women and children. Hundreds require immediate medical attention and need to be evacuated. Given the severe targeting of aid /healthcare workers, we plead with the UN and WHO to use every power at their disposal to evacuate aid workers, NGO staff and their families from Aleppo. The genocidal killings in Syria must stop now.  "We cannot stand one more day of horrors. Every day a new sadistic action is taken against the people of Syria as the world looks on dumbly. Try and imagine the pain and suffering the people go through for every moment without peace."  Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada /Ontario Surgeon   . Media inquiries and interviews please contact  : Name: Dr. Houssam AlnahhasUOSSM Local Coordinator for CBRN- Task Force, TurkeyEmail: h.alnahhas@ogr.iu.edu.tr

BREAKING: Chemical Weapons Attack In Kallaseh, Aleppo

Chlorine gas attacks reported in the Kallaseh neighbourhood of besieged Aleppo and a medical point on December 9, 2016. Victims at the medical facility reported symptoms consistent with the choking agent, chlorine gas. The number of injuries and casualties is currently unconfirmed. UOSSM representatives issued a statement: “Targeting civilians and medical facilities with chemical weapons is a war crime.  We echo the sentiments of the UN General Assembly, where 122 countries demanded the immediate and complete end to all attacks on civilians , civilian objects, to all sieges throughout the country and to allow unconditional humanitarian access to those in need. We ask the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons) to fulfill it’s mandate and launch an immediate investigation into this attack and hold perpetrators responsible for these grievous violations to international law (UNSC-R 2118, UNSC-R 2209). ”Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada said “A whole city is being butchered before our eyes. The time is now to look past politics and focus on saving those on the brink of survival. We call on the UN and all responsible parties to act immediately. To let medical and humanitarian aid in and wounded victims that are in dire need of medical care out. ” Video Of Patients:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1oIZsVkfBsxeVNHbFJlMmIwVUk?usp=sharing *Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada and Ontario Surgeon is available for interview. Media inquiries and interviews please contact  : Name: Avi D'Souza Global Director Of Communications Phone:1 (647) 528-5029 Email: press@uossm.org