The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called for the urgent evacuation of many sick and wounded people locked in embattled parts of eastern Aleppo. The international body stressed the need of establishing safe routes for evacuation to take place.
The Syrian military launched a major campaign last week to take opposition-held eastern Aleppo, where the U.N. health agency said only 35 doctors remained to care for at least 250,000 people.
“WHO is calling for the immediate establishment of humanitarian routes to evacuate sick and wounded from the eastern part of the city,” WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva.
“We are talking about only 35 doctors left in east Aleppo to take care of hundreds of wounded people, and the number is increasing,” Chaib said, adding that only seven hospitals remain in east Aleppo, some of them only partially functional, and civilians have no way to leave the encircled city.
WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that dozens of patients required evacuation and that local health authorities would draw up the initial list which then would be assessed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
“WHO submitted the request for medical evacuations through the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Jasarevic said by email from Syria. “The plans are being firmed up on how and where to evacuate with options of west Aleppo and Bab al Hawa hospital in Idlib,” he said, referring to a hospital along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Medical staff in eastern Aleppo are working relentlessly to save lives but are unable to cope with the demand for specialized and emergency services, ICRC spokesperson Krista Armstrong said.
“There is a desperate need for medical evacuations; hospitals are short of surgical trauma items and blood products for transfusions,” she said.
Syrian doctors said on Monday they were in dire need of medical and surgical supplies to treat hundreds of wounded.
The Syrian doctors said at least 40 wounded people in eastern Aleppo needed to be evacuated, but most wanted to be sent to opposition-held areas or abroad, not to the regime-controlled western side of the city.
“We are waiting to evacuate them safely, to the hospitals in Idlib governorate, and some of them need to be evacuated to Turkey,” said Dr. Abd Arrahman Alomar of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).
Jessy Chahine, spokesperson for U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, told Tuesday’s briefing: “We do remind always all parties that evacuation operations have to be in accordance with IHL (international humanitarian law) and protection standards.”