How often are UOSSM infrastructures directly attacked? Does this ONG possess any strategic plan to deal or minimize the consequences of such attacks to their health facilities and professionals?
How many times we have been attacked… we actually have statistics and it is very frequent. Since 2014, we have been attacked almost every month. It varies, during this war, depending on what belligerence wants to win.
Unfortunately, health was and is still up until now a weapon. Humanitarian and health structures have been weaponized, pressuring people to flee from side to side. If you want precise figures, you can go to our site, our Facebook page, or I can give you many studies on it. Physicians for human rights did many studies before us, but actually we are heralding figures about how many attacks. Most of our hospitals have been attacked at least once. 20 to 30 people have been completely destroyed, many doctors have been killed during these attacks. Since 2011 we have lost 732 doctors, and more than 2600 are jailed, in Syria. This is the first part about how many, and figures, as I said, you can find them on our references.
For our strategy, we started, from the very beginning, by trying to call for protection from the international community. So, we held many international conferences. The first one was in Geneva, by the end of 2015, called “Protect Hospitals and Health Workers in Syria”. The same concept and conference were repeated 3 months later in Berlin, 6 months later in Paris and 9 months later in London. Unfortunately, attacks continued and we kept losing doctors. We then started to reinforce the structures of these hospitals, using concrete, digging underground, but the attackers started to use bunker buster bombs, special bombs to get through 3-4 floors of concrete, to get through mountains… They were very decided to attack us and destroy these health structures, because all the war is based on making the people flee. If you destroy health structures, you make people flee and you change the demography. And this is the real war in Syria: changing demography.
The last, and not least, point of our strategy is to “deconflict” our structures. That’s what we did recently: we went in negotiations directly with the Russians and asked them to stop bombing our hospitals under the pretention that there are military activities on our heath structures. So we suggested them to monitor our activity through webcams connected to the United Nations, so they could see in real time, all the time, that we don’t have any military activities, that we do have humanitarian activities, we are treating civilians, children, woman. They accepted this principle and we are working, nowadays, to implement it to protect our hospitals from bombings.