For Immediate Release
PHR Calls for Independent Investigation of Apparent Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria
New York, NY - 08/21/2013
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today called for an independent and thorough investigation into a possible chemical attack in the Ghouta region of eastern Damascus.
“Disturbing evidence emerging out of Syria points to the immediate need for a thorough and independent investigation into whether chemical weapons have been used,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. “During this ongoing crisis, it is crucial that doctors and other health professionals be able to provide unobstructed medical care so that they can correctly diagnose, treat and document any injuries and deaths resulting from the use of chemical weapons.”
PHR is making fact sheets on chemical weapons available in English and Arabic in order to help educate and provide guidance for doctors and first responders.
Graphic videos that have surfaced this week show what appears to be the aftermath of an attack in Syria. The videos have not been independently verified, but the U.N. Security Council agreed to hold an emergency session this afternoon following reports from opposition groups that hundreds of civilians were killed in a chemical weapon attack.
PHR is calling on Syria to immediately grant access to the site of the attack to the U.N. team currently in the country to investigate earlier reports of chemical weapons use, and for humanitarian agencies to be provided with unimpeded access in order to be able to provide medical care and protection. PHR has also been asking the Security Council to refer the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity would be held accountable.
The death toll in Syria has reportedly exceeded 100,000. PHR experts have previously documented attacks on the medical community in Syria, including torture and killings of health care providers, as well as obstruction of medical treatment.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.