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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Syria: UN 'deeply disturbed' by reports of airstrikes on hospitals, other civilian infrastructure

2 August 2016 – Deeply disturbed by reports that five hospitals and a blood bank have been hit by airstrikes in Syria, the United Nations today reiterated its call on all parties to the conflict to end the destruction of medical facilities and other civilian infrastructure.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that many of these facilities that had provided life-saving healthcare to tens of thousands of people are no longer functioning.

According to updates from OCHA, three hospitals in Andan town, Hor village and Haritan sub-district in Aleppo governorate were reportedly damaged by airstrikes on 30 and 31 July.

Jasim hospital in Dara'a was reportedly also hit on 31 July and a maternity hospital in Idleb was also reportedly struck on 30 July. In addition, a blood bank in Atareb, Aleppo governorate, was reported hit on 31 July.

Dozens of casualties and injuries resulting from these strikes have been reported, including to pregnant women and children.

OCHA also reported that attacks on civilian infrastructure include those on 31 July and 1 August that reportedly damaged Aleppo's electricity and water distribution infrastructure. This has resulted in an electricity blackout throughout the city and has left residents throughout Aleppo with no access to water through the public water network, although some water is still available through wells and tanks.

An aerial bombardment on Saraqab city in Idleb on 30 July reportedly struck a university, resulting in partial damages to infrastructure, and on 1 August, shelling on Aleppo University in western Aleppo city reportedly injured about 11 students.

The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict to end the destruction of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure that is essential for the civilian population, and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and the international human rights law, OCHA said.

In related news, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Saad Houry, also called for the protection of all children in Aleppo.

A press statement from UNICEF said the agency is extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all children caught up in the escalating violence in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria.

"The escalation of this conflict puts children in horrific circumstances and will have dire consequences for them for years to come," said Mr. Houry.

Heavy fighting in densely populated areas in the west of the city has forced the displacement of 25,000 people. Families are sheltering in mosques, university campuses and public gardens.

Moreover, in the east of the city, 300,000 people, a third of them children, have been trapped since early July.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to grant us unhindered humanitarian access to children and families wherever they are located across the city, he said, adding: "UNICEF urges the warring parties in Syria to abide by their legal obligations to protect children and all civilians."

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