Attacks on hospitals since Syria’s war broke out five years ago have left more than 700 doctors and medical workers dead, many of them in airstrikes, U.N. investigators said Tuesday.
GENEVA: Attacks on hospitals since Syria’s war broke out five years ago have left more than 700 doctors and medical workers dead, many of them in airstrikes, U.N. investigators said Tuesday.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria also condemned horrific violations by militants and voiced concern that Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants may have recruited hundreds of children into their ranks.
Commission chief Paulo Pinheiro told the U.N. Human Rights Council that widespread, targeted aerial attacks on hospitals and clinics across Syria “have resulted in scores of civilian deaths, including much-needed medical workers.”
“More than 700 doctors and medical personnel have been killed in attacks on hospitals since the beginning of the conflict,” he said.
Pinheiro, who was presenting the commission’s latest report to the council, said attacks on medical facilities and the deaths of so many medical professionals had made access to health care in the violence-wracked country extremely difficult – and in some areas completely impossible. “As civilian casualties mount, the number of medical facilities and staff decreases, limiting even further access to medical care,” he said.
Pinheiro also denouncedfrequent attacks on other infrastructure critical to civilian life, such as markets, schools and bakeries. “With each attack, terrorized survivors are left more vulnerable,” he said, adding that “schools, hospitals, mosques, water stations … are all being turned into rubble.”
Pinheiro said the commission was investigating allegations that the Nusra Front “and other Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have recruited hundreds of children under 15 in Idlib.”
The brutality of Syria’s conflict is preventing millions of children from attending school, and activists have warned this is helping fuel militant recruitment drives.
Pinheiro also condemned violations committed by Daesh (ISIS).
In a report published last week, the commission warned that Daesh militants were continuing to commit genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq and Syria. In 2014, extremistsmassacred members of the Kurdish-speaking minority mainly based around Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq, forcing tens of thousands to flee, and captured thousands of girls and women.
“As we speak, Yazidi women and girls are still sexually enslaved, subjected to brutal rapes and beatings. They are bought and sold in markets, passed from fighter to fighter like chattel, their dignity being ripped from them with each passing day,” Pinheiro said Tuesday.
“Boys are taken from their mother’s care and forced into [Daesh] training camps once they reach the age of seven,” he said, as he called on the international community to act “to stop the genocide.”