SYRIA: Medical charity calls for immediate cessation of hostilities as it prepares to treat further victims of chemical weapons attacks

by Doctors of the World | Doctors of the World UK- Medecins du Monde (MDM) -
Friday, 30 August 2013 09:43 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

As the numbers of casualties in Syria’s protracted civil war continue to escalate, international humanitarian health charity Doctors of the World has called for an immediate cessation in hostilities to enable to reach and treat all those in medical need.

“The use of chemical weapons is an illegal and gruesome turn of events in this bloody conflict,” says Leigh Daynes, Executive Director of Doctors of the World UK. “Doctors inside Syria tell us that there have been many deaths and many more injured in recent attacks. We’re ramping up our response so that we can treat cases where we are able to reach people in need.”

The organisation is distributing atropine [an effective treatment for nerve gas poisoning] to doctors in Syria so that they are able to treat new victims and to ensure people receive appropriate care.

Working in Syria since October 2012, the charity now has 50 healthcare professionals working in nine primary healthcare centres in the country.

“We are ready for any escalation in the conflict,” Mr Daynes adds. “We have prepared emergency medical supplies – including primary healthcare kits, surgical material, equipment for conducting caesarean section deliveries, and chemical weapon decontamination stock – to treat injured civilians. The only obstacle in our way is the fighting, which must cease immediately so that we can reach and treat all those in need.”

Doctors of the World has urged all parties to the conflict to observe International Humanitarian Law, the rules of war, and to refrain from any further use of chemical weapons.

“It is our responsibility to remind the government forces just as much as the armed groups in Syria that not everything is permitted,” says Dr. Thierry Brigaud, President of Médecins du Monde France.

Mr Daynes adds: “We call on all parties to the conflict to minimise civilian casualties and to allow humanitarian and medical workers freedom of movement, ensuring they are protected from attack, intimidation or detention. Above all else, they must be allowed rapid and unimpeded access to civilians who are in need.”

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 casualties in Syria, countless people injured, 1.8 million refugees and 4 million internally displaced people.

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