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Attacks in Syria

Syrian Man Shot Smuggling Medicine
A Syrian man shot while smuggling medicine over the Lebanese border is carried into a field hospital in Qusayr, Syria.(AFP/GettyImages)

Since mid-March 2011 Syrian government forces have sought to crush citizen uprisings. More than 190,000 people have been killed according to the UN and at thousands of others are reported to be in custody or missing.

In addition to the widely reported atrocities committed by the government, PHR has discovered reports of grievous attacks on medical facilities, health workers, and patients and documented these alarming assaults on the medical profession.

PHR calls on Bashar al-Assad to end assaults on Syria’s hospitals, doctors, and patients — a clear violation of the universally recognized principle of medical neutrality. Medical neutrality requires noninterference with medical services in times of armed conflict and nondiscriminatory treatment of the sick and wounded.

Both sides of the conflict must immediately abide by all relevant international laws. The sick and wounded must be provided the help they need, and medical professionals must be free to do their job without interference.

Turkish Security Forces Blocking Access to Medical Care in Southeastern Turkey (February 8, 2016)

PHR expressed concern over credible reports that Turkish security forces are blocking access to urgent medical care for the sick and wounded in the course of their operations in southeastern Turkey.

Syria’s Neighbors Must Let Doctors Practice (February 2, 2016)

PHR is calling on world leaders to prioritize Syria’s shattered health system by creating mechanisms for thousands of displaced medical professionals to temporarily practice in neighboring countries. PHR’s call comes in light of this week’s conference of donor governments meeting in London to discuss response to the Syrian crisis.

2015 Marks Worst Year for Attacks on Hospitals in Syria (December 18, 2015)

This year has been the worst on record for attacks on medical facilities in Syria, with government forces responsible for most of the 112 attacks, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today. The figure only includes attacks through November and represents a 25 percent increase over the previous high of 89 attacks in 2012.

Less Than a Third of Aleppo’s Hospitals Functioning; 95% of Doctors Have Fled, Been Detained or Killed (November 18, 2015)

The Syrian government’s assault on eastern Aleppo city, which includes 45 attacks on medical facilities in the past three years, has decimated the city’s health care system.

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Failed Peace Talks Are a Death Sentence for Syrians (January 28, 2016)

Political wrangling in the lead up to Friday's U.N.-brokered peace talks has dramatically lowered expectations. But continued inaction at the diplomatic level, writes Elise Baker of PHR, is a "death sentence" for many Syrians trapped in besieged or remote areas across the country

Protecting Syria's civilians: another discarded New Year's resolution? (January 11, 2016)

It's been just three weeks since the UN Security Council adopted its latest resolution on the conflict in Syria, re-authorizing cross-border delivery routes for humanitarian aid and promising - once again - to take "further measures" if the parties to the conflict do not comply with international humanitarian law.

A New Low: Stealing Family Heirlooms in Exchange for Protection (December 16, 2015)

The refugee crisis in Europe has shown the very real limits to the social coherence and solidarity that seemed to form the basis for the European Union until now. But even within the climate of hostility against asylum seekers in Europe, Denmark stands apart as one of the worst aggressors.

A Grave on the Road to Justice in Rwanda (December 11, 2015)

As the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) wraps up its dockets in Arusha, Tanzania on December 14 and hands over cases to other processes, we reflect on landmark “firsts” accomplished by the tribunal: the first international prosecution for the crime of genocide, and the first conviction for rape and sexual violence as forms of genocide.

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Letter to Turkish Prime Minister on Lack of Access to Medical Care in Southeastern Turkey (February 2016)

PHR and leading medical organizations sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to express concerns about credible reports that Turkish security forces are blocking access to urgent medical care for the sick and wounded in the course of their operations in southeastern Turkey.

Let Syria’s Health Professionals Work (February 2016)

In this paper, PHR provides recommendations to donor governments that would demonstrate their commitment to the health and well-being of the Syrian people, to the principles of mutual recognition of health professional qualifications, and to core commitments by the global community to sustainable development in the region.

Letter to President Obama on the Kunduz Hospital Attack (January 2016)

PHR sent a letter to President Obama expressing grave concern about the increased frequency of attacks on hospitals and medical personnel across the globe, including the devastating October airstrikes by the U.S. military on an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Aleppo Abandoned (November 2015)

The Syrian government’s ongoing assault on health care is one of the most egregious the world has ever seen. This report focuses specifically on the state of health care in eastern Aleppo city and tells a story of courage and resilience in the face of tremendous human suffering and loss.

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Featured Report

Syria: Attacks on Doctors, Patients, and Hospitals

The Syrian government has responded to popular protests with months of sustained and extreme violence and intimidation, and an all-out assault on the country’s medical system. PHR has documented attacks on Syria’s medical profession – violations that are but one aspect of the myriad abuses the Syrian people have endured over the past several months. Read More »