World Bulletin/News Desk
Western states are focusing too much on tackling ISIL and are forgetting the daily suffering of ordinary Syrians in areas of the country where the medical situation has become catastrophic, a group of Syrian doctors said.
Some 200,000 people have died and nearly half the Syrian population has been displaced by the conflict that began with anti-government protests in 2011 and spiralled into full-scale civil war.
The situation has been exacerbated since a U.S-led coalition began bombing areas of Syria controlled by ISIL, which seized swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq last year.
"Between 30 to 60 people are dying each day since the bombings started," said Tawfik Shamaa, spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations (UOSSM), a non-governmental association that brings together 14 groups.
"There is only talk of extremism and ISIL, but not the women and children who are killed, the bodies torn apart, the stomachs blown open, which is what doctors are dealing with each day."
About a dozen doctors operating in Syria for UOSSM, including areas besieged by government forces in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta and Syria's second city Aleppo as well as in ISIL stronghold Raqqa, met French officials on Monday to outline the situation.
While the UOSSM says it remains neutral in the conflict, Paris is its largest donor. The group has about 300 medical posts and 12 dispensaries across Syria, but said its efforts are limited given the lack of medicines, equipment and staff.
"The situation is unbearable, catastrophic," said Obaida al-Moufti, a Franco-Syrian doctor.
One doctor in Aleppo, who gave his name as Abdelaziz, said there were just five functioning hospitals to cater to 360,000 people encircled by government troops.
"There are only 30 doctors of all specialities," he said adding that people were dying of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, scabies and tuberculosis because there were no treatments or vaccines available.
In Raqqa, the ISIL's main Syria stronghold where some 1.6 million people live, another doctor said things were not easy, but not as difficult as elsewhere.
"We are allowed to work there, but we have no support from NGOs and services are limited. There are no obstetrics, gynaecology or paediatrics services."
School closures in Syria affect 670,000
Meanwhile, an estimated 670,000 children in Syria are being deprived of education after ISIL forces ordered schools closed to change the curriculum, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
"In December there was a decree of the ISIL ordering the stoppage of education in areas under its control," UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told a news briefing.
"ISIL said that the curriculum needed to be reshaped or re-conceived."
Children enrolled in primary and secondary schools in Raqqa, and rural areas of Deir al-Zor and Aleppo provinces are affected by the closures, he said. Teachers must undergo retraining.
UNICEF also said that at least 160 children were killed and 343 wounded in attacks on schools across Syria last year. The toll was probably an under-estimate due to difficulties of access and obtaining data generally, Boulierac said.
"In addition to lack of school access, attacks on schools, teachers and students are further horrific reminders of the terrible price Syria's children are paying in a crisis approaching its fifth year," Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria, said in a statement.Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2015, 14:53