Stop the Killing of Civilians in Syria

Attacks on Medical Facilities Are One Aspect of the Crisis for Civilians, FXB Graphic, based on data from Physicians for Human Rights report and webpage, “Anatomy of a Crisis, A Map of Attacks on Health Care in Syria”

By Jennifer Leaning

On February 24, 2018, the UN Security Council unanimously approved SCR 2401, calling for an immediate stop to the attacks on civilian populations in Syria and a 30-day ceasefire to permit delivery of humanitarian relief.  The aerial bombardment of Eastern Ghouta has continued, however, without abatement.  In the last 48 hours, scores of civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded in this area since the passage of this resolution. All parties and the international community must work to  realize the three priorities identified in the recent Lancet Call to Action: “to stop the targeting and   besieging   of   civilians, to   end   attacks   on healthcare   facilities   and   other civilian   targets, and to allow unobstructed flow of aid, including medical supplies and evacuation of the wounded.”

The February 26 Russian directive to implement a ceasefire from 9AM to 2PM in Eastern Ghouta for civilian evacuation is insufficient and not in the spirit or letter of the UN SC RES 2401. As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said also on February 26 in calling for an immediate implementation of the ceasefire, “Eastern Ghouta cannot wait, it is high time to stop this hell on earth.” He further noted that all parties are obligated under “international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure at all times,” and that “efforts to combat ‘terrorism’ do not supersede these obligations.” Unless UN SC and UN agencies in Syria insist on full implementation and monitoring of its commitment expressed in SCR 2401, there will be no change on the ground.


Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, is director of the Harvard FXB Center, FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at Harvard School of Public Health, and one of three chairs of the Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria.

Read UN SC Resolution 2401 (actual text is at end of page, after various statements)

The Lancet Call to Action

‘Hell on Earth’ in Eastern Ghouta must stop: UN chief (link to Al Jazeera article)

More about the Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria and protecting health care in armed conflict 

Physicians for Human Rights webpage, “Anatomy of a Crisis, A Map of Attacks on Health Care in Syria”