Senior UN officials urge protection of medical facilities in Syria
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Senior UN humanitarian officials have launched a fresh appeal for the protection of medical facilities and secured access to medicines, vaccines and other vital humanitarian aid in Syria, a UN spokesperson said on Monday.
UN humanitarian officials, in a joint statement issued last week, strongly condemned attacks on health and other civilian facilities in Syria and voiced concerns over the serious implications for patients, health personnel and provision of critical medical supplies, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing.
"It is of the interest of both parties in the conflict and of all Syrian people to preserve the neutrality and the functionality of health infrastructure," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, head of UN World Health Organization Margaret Chan, and Executive Director of the UN Children's Agency Anthony Lake said in the statement.
The raging violence continues inflicting substantial damage on health facilities across the country, with more than 60 percent of public hospitals out of function in Syria and a similar percentage of ambulances stolen or damaged, according to UN figures.
"At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities be protected and medical staff be allowed to provide urgent medical, surgical and obstetric care to patients without any risk," they said.
Warning that attacks against health facilities could be considered a war crime under international law, they called for common efforts to draw attention to these inhumane acts and to protect innocent people.
Despite the insecurity and serious access challenges, the UN and partners have helped vaccinate more than 3.3 million children against measles and polio in recent weeks, according to UN figures.