Because of the infractions against healthcare by armed opposition groups in East Ghouta in late April, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) decided to suspend its medical support to the besieged area in the Damascus suburbs until the fighting parties showed clear signs of respect for healthcare.
MSF’s medical support is now restarting, following recent reports from doctors that MSF supports in the area indicating that there are some signs of increased respect of the integrity of health facilities, patients and health workers.
MSF strongly reiterates its calls to all armed parties in East Ghouta to ensure that none the following demands are transgressed, under any circumstance:
- No weapons or people bearing arms to enter medical facilities.
- Patients must be considered as outside of the conflict and due precautions must be taken by fighting parties to avoid direct action against healthcare, or hitting healthcare in their crossfire, or any other military acts that might jeopardize patients’ medical care.
- The transport of wounded and other patients, regardless of their identity, as well as the unobstructed movement of ambulances must be permitted and facilitated.
- Medical facilities, their goods and supplies, and ambulances must never be used for military purposes.
- Unobstructed evacuation of patients and medics when they need to move to a safer area must be permitted.
With the reassurances that we have seen over the past weeks and with the information we received from our supported doctors, we are ready to resume our support to the medical facilities in East Ghouta
MSF will not hesitate to take further similar steps, including re-suspending the medical support, if considered necessary to ensure the protection, respect and independence of healthcare.