Syria: All Sides Must Spare Civilians Trapped in Aleppo

BARCELONA/NEW YORK, DECEMBER 13, 2016 — At this critical juncture in the conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today expressed outrage over the unremitting violence directed against civilians and the unresponsiveness of those who can stop it.

MSF called on all warring parties to abide by their obligation to protect civilians in both the besieged areas and in areas newly taken over by the Syrian government.

All negotiations to secure access by the United Nations (UN) and other groups—including MSF—to provide humanitarian assistance in the besieged areas of eastern Aleppo have failed. In most cases, people were not provided the chance to flee.

It has also proven impossible to evacuate patients, resupply hospitals, and provide much needed aid to those who remain trapped. All parties concerned were and are responsible for this failure, MSF said.

“This is one of the worst crises MSF has witnessed in years,” said Teresa Sancristoval, head of MSF’s emergency unit for Aleppo. “We remind all sides that even war has rules. It is paramount that all parties allow people to flee to safety, allow the evacuation of the sick and wounded, and facilitate the protection of, and humanitarian assistance to, those who are caught on the front lines.”

The few medical workers still working under extreme conditions in eastern Aleppo express deep fears for their immediate future. Medical staff and the patients they care for must be protected under International Humanitarian Law.

MSF is extremely worried about the fate of the population due to the horrendous record of atrocities against civilians in this conflict, as the UN has also stated.