Right now hospitals are under attack in Syria. According to the Statistics compiled by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a hospital was attacked every 18 hours during this month. This is totally unprecedented and it’s only getting worse.
My friend Mohammed Tennari directs a clinic in the northern town of Sarmin in Idlib. This hospital was attacked just a few weeks ago. I spoke to him afterwards, and thankfully he and everyone else had survived. His hospital has been targeted over 15 times.
He said, “We hear the bombs every hour. We do not know which will be our hour to be bombed.” This reminded me of another conversation we had a year ago.
Last October, I spoke to Mohammed the day after his hospital had been bombed and two of his colleagues were killed. He said: “When I am in the hospital, I feel like I am sitting on a ticking time bomb. It is only a matter of time until it explodes. The hardest part is knowing that these attacks will happen again.”
He was right. A year has passed and they are still targets for Russia and the Assad regime.
The Geneva Conventions are designed to protect people who are injured and sick during conflict, and the health workers who treat them. And yet we are witnessing the end of the Geneva Conventions, the end of medical neutrality and the end of the key pillars of international humanitarian law. Hospitals have become a direct target of systematic state attacks.
The targeting of medical facilities by the Syrian regime and Russia amounts to war crimes.
International community have agreed that attacks on hospitals must be prevented, and that perpetrators need to be held accountable. The resolutions are in place. They simply need to be enforced.