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Order of Malta Australia


Syria: New wave of air attacks follows end of ceasefire


Malteser International condemns bombing of aid workers and civilians

An incubator in the Aleppo children’s hospital before the beginning of the siege. The hospital provided outpatient care to around 4,000 children in the last month alone. Photo: Mustafa Soltan

Cologne: The situation for civilians in Syria is set to worsen after an attack on an aid convoy of 31 trucks on Monday evening led to a complete cessation of UN aid deliveries in the country. The convoy was clearly marked as an aid shipment, and was intended for around 78,000 people in Uram al-Kubra. Eighteen of the trucks were damaged or destroyed in the attack, in which twenty people lost their lives.

“This most recent incident is just the latest in a long series of targeted attacks against medical facilities and other social infrastructure in the Aleppo region,” said Janine Lietmeyer, Malteser International’s Middle East manager. “The end of the ceasefire has worsened the already bleak situation for civilians trapped in besieged areas of the city, who are again exposed to intensive air attacks. A new wave of violence has already begun. Our partners on the ground reported that on Tuesday alone eastern Aleppo was hit by over one hundred air attacks and at least thirty barrel bombs as hostilities resumed in earnest.”

The Malteser International-supported children’s hospital in Aleppo was the target of repeated bombardment during the summer – forcing the facility to move its operations into a cellar for shelter. In the last month alone the hospital provided outpatient treatment to around 4,000 children – almost half of whom were babies under one year of age. The most common complaints included respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, however there have been alarming individual cases of measles and meningitis. The supply of medication is sufficient for the time being, but there are concerns about the dwindling reserve of fuel for the hospital’s generators, which provide electrical power for inpatient care – including incubators for newborn babies.

“If supplies cannot be delivered to the besieged areas of the city, the inhabitants face a creeping death sentence,” warned Lietmeyer. “I have asked our partners on the ground what more we can do to help. Their answer was simply, ‘pray for us’.”

Malteser International has been supporting the pediatric hospital since July 2015 – paying the salaries of staff members, and financing the purchase of equipment including ventilators and incubators. Malteser International also provides medical care for around 300,000 people living near the Syrian-Turkish border at four basic health units operated by its partner organization. More than half of these are internally displaced people living in camps.

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