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Medical Professionals Working in Aleppo Basements to Avoid Bombs

Report comes in from only children’s hospital in rebel-held section of city

Vatican Radio reports that the situation of Aleppo’s hospitals is growing more and more dire:

As the fight intensified for control of the Syrian city of Aleppo, local doctors and humanitarian workers speak of a worsening of the already dire conditions facing medical facilities operating in the contested city.

Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta and it supports the only children’s hospital located in the rebel-held eastern side of Aleppo.

Janine Lietmeyer is Malteser International’s Middle East Manager and she says the situation in their hospital and other medical facilities in Aleppo is “really, really desperate.”

She was interviewed by Susy Hodges and told her how the doctors and medical workers at the children’s hospital are continuing their vital work of caring for premature babies as well as sick and wounded children despite the huge threats to their personal safety.

The area where the children’s hospital supported by Malteser International is located has been besieged since late July and the facility recently moved its operations into the cellar of the building in order to give staff and patients as much safety as possible amidst the daily bombardments.  Lietmeyer explained how U.N. and NGO relief organizations were “very reluctant” to risk the lives of their staff by sending in desperately-needed supplies to the city of Aleppo unless they obtain proper guarantees from all the warring parties that the guns will fall silent.

“The roads (around Aleppo) are simply not safe,” she said.

Lietmeyer points out that the children’s hospital supported by Malteser International is the only facility (in the eastern side of Aleppo) that can take care of premature babies and its staff took the courageous decision to stay on, rather than evacuate, so they can carry on providing support to the families and children of Aleppo despite the huge threats to their personal safety arising from the daily bombardments.

The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations have long claimed that medical facilities are being deliberately targed in Aleppo.

Asked whether she agrees with that accusation, Lietmeyer said this is “definitely” the case and as a result hospitals are not just moving their operations underground to escape the shelling but also are often operating in private make-shift buildings to disguise their presence from the air.  Noting that there are only 35 doctors left in the eastern side of Aleppo, Lietmeyer said this is far “too small” a number to serve such a large population.

In addition to the daily injuries caused by the shelling and bombardments, there are many other health issues due to the lack of water, electricity and other essential replies that she said are exacerbating a “really, really desperate” situation inside the city’s medical facilities.

“Abandoned to their fate”

Lietmeyer said the price of whatever food supplies are left in Aleppo are “skyrocketing” and what is particularly depressing for the local people is “the feeling that they have been abandoned to their fate” by the whole world that is by now “tired” of the daily bad news coming out of Syria.

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