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SYRIA Doctors, patients in Syria fear arrest, torture: MSF

People wounded in the crackdown on dissent in Syria, as well as medical personnel trying to treat them, risk arrest and even torture, the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Tuesday

AFP
May 15, 2012
Image Credit: AFP

Paris: People wounded in the crackdown on dissent in Syria, as well as medical personnel trying to treat them, risk arrest and even torture, the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Tuesday.

MSF doctors, after failing to get permission to work in the country, entered clandestinely and managed to reach the rebel strongholds of Homs and Idlib, where "patients and medical personnel are hunted down and run the risk of being arrested and tortured," MSF official Dounia Dekhili told AFP.

"We are in a very particular situation in Syria: no impartial humanitarian aid can be brought in, and the harassment of the wounded and doctors is part of the regime's police strategy," she added.

"According to Syrian doctors, it is at least as dangerous to be caught caring for the wounded as being caught with a weapon in your hand," an MSF surgeon who was part of the trip told AFP.

Surgeons had to flee

"In a state hospital, we worked as much as we could for three days, but then had to flee in 10 minutes because we feared an imminent attack," said the surgeon, who requested anonymity.

An anaesthetist who was on the trip said patients want to spend as little time as possible in hospital, going home sometimes less than an hour after undergoing surgery.

'Wounded should be a priority'

"The interests of the wounded and of health personnel should be a priority in Syria," MSF said in a statement, urging a "redoubling of diplomatic and political efforts."

MSF's appeal comes the day after the European Union adopted a new set of sanctions against the Syrian regime as a tenuous UN-backed truce entered its second month.

A UN observer mission is tasked with shoring up the ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan that was supposed to take effect on April 12 but which has been broken daily.

More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including more than 900 killed since the April 12.

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