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Health Care Workers, Patients In Syria Need Protection

Despite the diminishing threat of a U.S. military strike on Syria and a plan to remove chemical weapons from the country, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “still poses a significant risk to civilians, doctors, the injured and those seeking medical attention, largely in areas lost to the regime’s control,” Saleyha Ahsan, a physician working in the country with Hand in Hand for Syria, writes in a Guardian opinion piece. “In this current climate of diplomacy, attention is turning to another international standard, enshrined in humanitarian law, and yet recurrently breached in the Syrian crisis — the access to humanitarian relief and safe access to health care,” she writes. “The U.N. has acknowledged that humanitarian aid, in particular health care, is being hampered,” she states, adding, “Health care workers and the injured are protected entities within international humanitarian law but here they are deemed high value targets.” Ahsan concludes, “What they need is protection, as promised, through international humanitarian law, to be able to do their job safely and to be supported by the international community instead of hampered by its bureaucracy” (9/21).