Syrian-American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have slammed the World Health Organization (WHO) for choosing Syria as a member of the organizations’ board. Below is the full statement:
The Syrian regime and its allies destroyed hundreds of hospitals, other health facilities, and ambulances since 2011, even when these facilities were marked with the internationally recognized signs of the Red Crescent and the Red Cross. The Russian and the Assad regime forces deliberately target healthcare facilities, as reported by hundreds of intelligent reports and investigative journalists. Hundreds of healthcare workers, patients, and other civilians were killed and injured by these attacks on healthcare facilities.
The Syrian regime and the Russian forces directly attacked with bombing 540 healthcare facilities since 2011. These bombings killed 827 medical workers and 289 volunteers and injured more than 890 Syria Civil Defense volunteers. Many, killed and injured by the so-called double-tap bombing when the regime and the Russian forces targeted the rescuers with a second bombing while trying to save the victims of the first bombing. In addition, the Assad regime worked systematically to deprive the civilians outside his control of access to healthcare by destroying healthcare facilities and killing healthcare providers.
The Syrian civil society organizations have been calling upon the international community to protect the hospitals and healthcare workers against the regime’s attacks. The regime forces’ attacks on the healthcare facilities and personnel are well documented and condemned by the international community, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO naively shared coordinates of healthcare facilities with the Russian and Syrian regime forces. Intern, these forces didn’t hesitate to use this information to target the same healthcare facilities with the direct bombing. The WHO stood helplessly while the Syrian civilians lost any safe access to healthcare because of the Assad regime’s actions.
We are disappointed and shocked by the election of the Syrian Arab Republic under the illegitimate rule of the Assad regime as a new member of the WHO Executive Board, while the Assad regime continues to destroy the healthcare systems of the Syrian people. The election of the Assad regime to the WHO Executive Board rewards his actions against his people. Furthermore, it is considered a setback for the efforts aimed at supporting and protecting healthcare facilities, healthcare workers, and volunteers.
The election of the Assad regime to the WHO Executive Board is a betrayal to the thousands of doctors, nurses, and volunteers killed by the Assad regime forces attacks on healthcare facilities. We strongly condemn rewarding the Assad regime with this honor. Instead, Mr. Bashar Al Assad and his top generals should be brought to justice before an International Criminal Court.
Syrian civil society considers the election of the Syrian regime to the executive board of the WHO unacceptable and unjustified. It should be withdrawn immediately because this election legitimizes the Assad regime’s crimes and violations against civilians.
The Syrian civil society organizations will continue to expose the Assad regime’s crimes and use all legal means to bring justice for millions of regime crimes.