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Thursday 3 March 2016

“There is no ceasefire”

Yesterday Dr Abdel Aziz in Aleppo spoke via Skype to a meeting in the House of Commons’ Committee Room 21, organised by the Syrian British Medical Society and hosted by Roger Godsiff MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria.

Dr Abdel Aziz:

The situation is terrible, especially in some hard to reach cities such as Aleppo now. The situation in Aleppo currently is very difficult because the city now could be classified as hard to reach because there is snipers attacking anybody coming crossing the only road to the city. We have by the way now, the total number of doctors including specialist, resident, or medical students, no more than 30 doctors inside Aleppo city. One example in my hospital, we have in the ICU only one technician covering 24 hours a day. We don’t have any other staff because so many technicians fled out of the city, because they heard the city could be besieged at any time.

We have two orthopaedic in the whole of the city. The total population of the city, it was 350,000, and now decreased at least 100,000 because so many people fled out of the city. The daily basis airstrikes never stopped, maybe at the same time three, four, five in the sky, and targeting mostly civilians, mostly hospitals, schools.

I think you’ve heard about the 15th February attacks. More than five hospitals were attacked on 15 February. One of these hospitals, in Idlib, it’s an MSF hospital. We lost one of our colleagues, and six nursing staff, in addition to more than 17 patients.

Also two hospitals were targeted in the north of Aleppo, in Azaz, one of them maternity hospital and the other a trauma hospital. Also those two hospitals have been closed totally and are now out of service.

Regarding that MSF hospital, it was targeted three times consecutively; the first one at 9 o’clock in the morning, the second 9:15, the third 9:30, so just to keep those people under the wreckage until they died. After two hours, nine kilometres distance from the hospital there is another hospital which is al-Ma’arra central hospital. All of the injured patients have been transferred to the other hospital, and then an attack targeted the second hospital. So they evacuated the second hospital and transferred the patients to Bab Al Hawa and Darkush hospital. So now these two hospitals are out of service, so in one day, 15 February, we lost four hospitals, and one  school in Saraqeb area. So imagine the situation of civilians and medical staff. We are losing our staff, we are bleeding or staff by the way.

On his hospital in Aleppo:

Still functioning, fortunately. We’ve moved to the basement now. We have three stories in this building, and now we move to underground in the basement and made some sort of sandbags on the windows just in case, for protecting people from shrapnel. So now everything’s underground for the staff and for the theatres, but still running. In this hospital now there are only two general surgeons, one neurologist, one general surgery resident, no anaesthesiologist, only technicians are working there, and some nursing staff. And by the way the nursing staff, most of them are not qualified, just learning how to be a nurse.

There are some medical supplies. We try to preserve some stock inside the city just in case. We are concerned that the city could be besieged at any time. The most important problem is diesel because it’s not available. It’s not easy to get it inside the city. The other problem is maintenance, either for the ambulance or for any medical equipment inside the city, because there are no more biomedical or any staff inside the city, so if we have any machine stop working and needing maintenance, we don’t have anybody who can do this.

On the ceasefire:

So we listen about this ceasefire, but in reality there is no ceasefire. Everything is as regular, as usual.

By the way, let me tell you something. Before the midnight of the ceasefire, it was Friday, before midnight, 11:30, one hospital in Darat Izza was targeted and is now out of service. It’s Al-Kinanah Hospital in Darat Izza. It has been destroyed, on the night of ceasefire, half an hour before the presumed ceasefire. There’s no ceasefire to be honest anymore.