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Aid groups urge protection of Syrian medical facilities

A joint statement by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the U.N.'s humanitarian operations “strongly condemned” attacks on health facilities

Published: Updated:

Officials from organizations with health-related missions in Syria called Friday for the protection of medical facilities and personnel there.

A joint statement by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the U.N.'s humanitarian operations “strongly condemned” attacks on health facilities.

The organizations said they were “deeply concerned by the serious implications for patients, health personnel and provision of critical medical supplies.”

The statement was made by UNICEF Director Anthony Lake, WHO chief Margaret Chan and U.N. humanitarian operations chief Valerie Amos.

Attacks against health facilities, they warned, can be considered war crimes under international law.

“Over 60 percent of public hospitals have been damaged or are out of service, while a similar proportion of ambulances have been stolen or badly damaged,” the three said.

“At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities be protected and medical staff be allowed to provide urgent medical, surgical and obstetric care,” the statement said.

Despite difficulties, the U.N. and partners have helped vaccinate more than 3.3 million children against measles and polio in recent weeks and have provided reproductive and maternal health services to more than 8,000 women, according to the statement.