East Aleppo's Few Remaining Medics Struggle to Treat Waves of Wounded


AMMAN, JORDAN/NEW YORK, OCTOBER 9, 2016 — The few remaining medical personnel in eastern Aleppo are exhausted, working around the clock to treat daily influxes of wounded patients, even as the siege of the city prevents additional medical personnel from joining them, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

From October 6 to 8 alone, hospitals in eastern Aleppo reported at least 98 wounded, including 11 children, and 29 people killed by the airstrikes. There are only 35 doctors left in eastern Aleppo, just seven of whom are able to undertake surgical operations on war-wounded patients, according to eastern Aleppo’s Directorate of Health.

“Wounded patients are sleeping in front of hospitals during heavy bombings because the hallways of the hospitals are full,” said Ahmed Laila, head of eastern Aleppo’s Directorate of Health.

The beginning of the siege in July by the Syrian army and its allies prevented local medical personnel who had temporarily left the city from returning. Several Syrian doctors in Turkey have expressed their willingness to return if safe passage is granted.

“They observe now with deep sorrow the deterioration of the crisis, unable to help a population in dire need,” said Carlos Francisco, MSF’s head of mission for Syria.

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Hospitals and medical organizations in eastern Aleppo are also worried about fuel supplies, which are essential for running the facilities and the 21 ambulances currently working in the area, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The blockade has led, among other things, to a lack of fuel that has crippled the city. The medical facilities are on the verge of losing power, which could endanger their life-saving activities,” said Pablo Marco, MSF’s operations manager in the Middle East.

“There is no time to waste. Russia and Syria must stop the indiscriminate bombing now and abide by the rules of war to avoid the extreme suffering of the unprotected civilian population.”

MSF supports eight hospitals in East Aleppo city. It runs six medical facilities across northern Syria and supports more than 150 health centers and hospitals across the country, many of them in besieged areas.