For Immediate Release

May 13, 2017

Washington, D.C.- Earlier today, a team of medical doctors affiliated with al-Ghouta medical office in East Ghouta came under attack from a local armed group. Three doctors, including one who is supported by SAMS, were forcibly detained as they were traveling to a nearby hospital. Thankfully, the doctors were released. However, when other health workers came to the location to stand in solidarity with their colleagues, the armed fighters began shooting at their vehicles. These incidents provide yet more examples of the immoral, illegal treatment of health workers taking place in East Ghouta. SAMS strongly condemns this heinous treatment of health workers, and calls on all parties in the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to respect medical neutrality.

Sadly, today’s events are not unique. Recently, a doctor was injured while he was participating in a peaceful demonstration in East Ghouta calling for an end to the ongoing fighting between local armed groups. Earlier this month, one of the facilities in East Ghouta supported  by Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontiere (MSF) also came under attack by armed opposition actors, and was subsequently forced to close. Last year, Dr. Nabil Daas was killed when he was caught in the crossfire between local armed groups. “We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and partners at MSF, and with all health workers in besieged East Ghouta. These blatant violations of international humanitarian law against medical workers and facilities cannot be allowed to continue with impunity. As a civilized community, we have a moral obligation to protect our colleagues on the ground across Syria who are constantly risking their lives to save others, ” said SAMS President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji.

SAMS raises serious concerns about the safety of the medical teams and facilities in East Ghouta and calls on all the parties on the ground to respect the humanitarian principles and the neutrality of humanitarian workers, and to hold the perpetrators of this unlawful violence accountable for their crimes.

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