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UN Week – 10/1/12

October 11, 2012

This blog entry is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.

John and Douglas Carey, Editors

In this issue:  Syrian Government’s position.

Last week’s speeches in the UN General Assembly repeatedly scorned the Assad regime in Syria. And Carla del Ponte, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, was named to beef up that court’s investigation of possible crimes against humanity in Syria.

At the same time, an old Latin maxim counsels us to audi alteram partem, meaning “hear the other side.” So here is what the Syrian Government said in a note verbale dated May 31 which for some reason was not included in the daily electronic distribution of General Assembly documents until September 7th.

“With reference to its earlier communications regarding the current situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Permanent Mission has the honour to convey below a brief account of the losses sustained by the health sector. Despite its humanitarian nature, the health sector is one of the key sectors that have suffered substantial losses as a result of terrorist acts.

“The State provides considerable support to the health sector in an effort to provide the highest attainable standard of medical services to Syrian nationals and residents, either free of charge or for a token sum. The substantial losses that have been sustained are the result of systematic and continuous attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against hospitals and health centres. Such attacks have escalated in particular during the past two months, putting numerous hospitals and health centres out of service. Armed terrorist groups have targeted physicians and health sector personnel, a number of whom have been killed, abducted and subjected to rape and intimidation.

“Terrorist groups have targeted ambulances, ambulance personnel and even international and national humanitarian personnel trying to help the civilians used by armed terrorist groups as human shields; moreover, they have stolen medicines from hospitals and from medical centres and warehouses, denying access to citizens in need in order to treat armed men and destroying the supplies that they could not steal.

“Unfortunately, certain regional States and groups are protecting the perpetrators of these and other crimes, providing political cover and media coverage; their media fabricate reports, which distort the facts, and address them to international bodies and organizations, which then present them as indisputable facts. The objective of doing so is to encourage armed gangs to continue their criminal activities.

“In Aleppo governorate, an armed terrorist group stole 16 ambulances and a large number of emergency and first aid kits in a targeted attack on Aleppo governorate ambulance headquarters on 25 July 2012.

“The following figures give a summary overview of the damage caused by attacks against the health sector from the beginning of the events to 22 July 2012. The figures do not include human losses, nor do they include the losses sustained in the most recent incident in Aleppo, mentioned above. There has been a considerable increase in losses during the past month and a half as terrorism against Syria has escalated with support and funding from abroad.

 Hospitals damaged

“Thirty-five hospitals have been damaged (of which 11 during the period from 7 June 2012 to 22 June 2012 alone). Ten of those damaged have been put out of service, namely: Manbaj Hospital, Al-Bab Hospital and A`zaz Hospital in Aleppo; the National Hospital, Al-Qusayr Hospital and Al-Nu`aymi Hospital in Homs; Halfaya Hospital in Hama; Al-Haffah Hosp-ital in Latakia; and Al-Asad Hospital and Al-Furat Hospital in Dayr al-Zawr.

Health centres damaged

“Thirty-two health centres have been damaged (of which 18 during the past month and a half), of which the following 30 have been put out of service:

“(a) Al-Qunaytrah governorate: Al-Hajar al-Aswad Natural Childbirth Centre, Al-Hajar al-Aswad Centre, Al-Sabinah Centre, Fourth Health District Centre, District HealthCentre;

“(b) Dayr al-Zawr governorate: Ayash Health Centre, the Polyclinic, the Health Institute, the Natural Childbirth Centre, Fourth Health District Centre;

“(c) Latakia governorate: Al-Haffah Centre;

“(d) Homs governorate: Jubb al-Jandali Centre, Al-Bayadah Polyclinic, Talbisah Polyclinic, Bab Duraib Polyclinic, Al-Khalidiyah Centre, Al-Salamah Centre, Al-Qusayr Polyclinic, Bab Duraib Centre, Al-Dab`ah Centre, Al-Rastan Health District Centre, Karm al-Zaytun Centre, North Dayr Ba`albah Centre, South Dayr Ba`albah Centre;

“(e) Damascus governorate: Al-Qa`ah Centre;

“(f) Aleppo governorate: Salah al-Din Centre, Dayr Jamal Medical Station,

Jarabuls Centre, Afrin Health District Centre;

“(g) Idlib governorate: Kfar Amim Centre.

Vehicles damaged

“Two hundred and seventy-seven ambulances, hospital and medical centre vehicles for vaccines and other supplies have been targeted and damaged. Despite all the attacks, the Ministry of Health continues to reno-vate and re-equip damaged hospital departments and health centres and to refit ambulances in the foregoing context.”

 

There is no way we ordinary people can evaluate these claims; that can only be done by organizations, governmental and non-governmental, that possess highly sophisticated fact-finding mechanisms. The International Criminal Court is one such organization. The rest of us can only remind ourselves not to jump to conclusions because, in the words of Alexander Pope, “a little learning is a dangerous thing.”[1]

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