Attacks on Syria’s health-care personnel and facilities

Health Cluster

WHO works with local partners to respond to health needs of the population of northern Syria whose medical centres have been damaged by the conflict.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria there have been hundreds of reported attacks on health care. Health facilities have been bombed, ambulances damaged by shelling and health workers abducted. The sanctity of health care, the right to health, and international humanitarian law are threatened.

Besides causing death and despair, such attacks deprive people of urgently needed care, put health-care providers in danger of being injured, killed or abducted, and undermine health systems. They significantly contribute to the deterioration of the health and well-being of affected populations. WHO condemns any attack on health care and demands that all parties in the Syrian conflict respect the safety and neutrality of health workers and facilities.

In 2012, World Health Assembly Resolution 65.20 was adopted, which requested WHO to provide leadership at the global level in collecting and reporting information on attacks on health care. WHO subsequently created the Attacks on Health Care initiative to systematically collect evidence on and advocate for an end to such attacks, and to promote best practices for safeguarding health care.

Ultimately, WHO seeks to ensure that:

  • health workers everywhere can provide health care in a safe and protected environment;
  • health workers are protected, resilient and equipped with knowledge and resources;
  • parties to conflict understand and uphold their responsibilities under international humanitarian law;
  • health-care delivery is not disrupted by attacks;
  • all forms of violence against health care stop.