WHO condemns attacks on residential neighbourhoods in Aleppo

23 March 2021 – Escalating violence in Aleppo, northwest Syria, has claimed innocent lives and further devastated homes and one critical health facility.

On 21 March 2021 at around 9:00 am, Al-Atareb Hospital in Atareb, Aleppo was hit by artillery shelling, killing 6 people and injuring 17, including patients and medical personnel. The hospital also sustained structural damages, resulting in the evacuation of all patients and staff, and a suspension of all health services.

The hospital, located in the Jebel Saman district of Aleppo governorate, used to provide an average of 5700 outpatient consultations, 375 hospital admissions, and 160 major surgeries per month to the population in the northwest of Aleppo.

“Thousands of people who depend on this hospital for basic and lifesaving health care are now deprived of this basic human right. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

On the same day, around 16.30 Al-Salheen and Al-Fardos residential neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo were hit by 3 rockets, killing 2 people and injuring 17 others.

12 civilians were admitted to Al-Razi public hospital, including 4 children and 5 women. Among the injured are a 5-year-old boy and his mother with penetrating intestinal injuries requiring emergency surgery, and an 11-year-old girl and her mother who both suffered bone fractures.

“The lives of people in northwest Syria have been devastated for a decade, and they are caught up in a crisis which needs a political solution. They must be allowed to have unimpeded and safe access to health care, especially at a time when they need it most. Health facilities must be allowed to function without risk, and civilians, health care workers, and patients must be protected,” said Dr Al-Mandhari.

Hostilities in northwestern Syria continue to take a heavy toll on the lives and livelihoods of civilians who have already endured a decade of violence, multiple displacements, and a major economic downturn. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation, adding new layers of complexity and hardship.

The people of Syria deserve peace. Attacks on health care and civilians must stop.