Syria: Major Aleppo Hospital Suspends All Activities After Bombings


BARCELONA, SPAIN/ALEPPO, SYRIA—One of the main hospitals in Aleppo has suspended all activities after it was bombed at least twice last week, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today, while calling for an end to attacks on civilians and medical services. 

Renewed shelling and airstrikes over the last two months are affecting residential areas and seriously damaging medical facilities in Aleppo, MSF said. Al Sakhour Hospital—one of two main hospitals in the area— provided critical, lifesaving care to a population of about 400,000 people before it was bombed over consecutive days last week. 

"We renew our appeal to the warring parties to respect civilians, health facilities and medical staff," said Raquel Ayora, MSF's director of operations. "These new attacks on medical infrastructures are intolerable." 

MSF has also confirmed reports that another medical center in Aleppo was targeted in recent weeks and has suspended all activities since April 17. Yet another airstrike targeted an ambulance on April 13, killing the driver, three medical staff, and one other person. Six more people were injured. 

MSF fears that the escalation of fighting in Aleppo and Idlib governorate will lead to an increase in civilian casualties and damage to residential areas, with hospitals and medical centers targeted to make the population suffer. 

In March alone, Al Sakhour Hospital admitted 2,444 patients and performed more than 300 trauma surgeries. All its activities, including those related to trauma and surgery, have now been stopped.

It is unclear if or when the hospital will be operative again as its staff are currently evaluating the serious damage inflicted to several areas in the building. MSF will try to help as much as possible once the assessment of the needs is completed and the hospital management has determined that it is indeed possible to reopen its wards. 

In June 2014, Al Sakhour Hospital had to close for several weeks due to the extensive damage to its structure after being targeted by strikes. 

Massive aerial bombing, including barrel bombs, have targeted residential areas, markets, bus stations, schools and medical facilities in Aleppo city since late 2013. 

MSF operates six medical facilities inside Syria and directly supports more than 100 clinics, health posts and field hospitals. MSF is also working with patients from Syria who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.