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Syria most dangerous place for health workers: WHO

 

Geneva / AFP

Syria was the most dangerous place for health care workers to operate last year, ahead of other conflict zones like the Palestinian territories, and Yemen, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
For the first time, the UN health agency provided comprehensive statistics on attacks on health care facilities and other violence directed at health workers in conflict areas, covering 19 countries over the past two years.
“One of the most concerning findings is that two thirds (of the attacks) have been deliberate,” Rick Brennan, the WHO’s chief of emergency risk management, told reporters.
Attacks intentionally targeting health care facilities, health workers, the sick and injured ‘represent gross violations of international humanitarian law,’ he said, stressing that ‘if proven (they) can be considered war crimes.’
According to the WHO report, 256 attacks directed at medical structures, personnel and ambulances took place in total across 19 countries last year, killing 434 people, including health workers, patients and bystanders.
More than half of those attacks (135) took place in war-ravaged Syria, resulting in 173 deaths.
However, 2014 was even deadlier on a global scale, with 525 people killed in 338 attacks across the 19 countries, the report showed.
But Syria did not figure quite as heavily in those statistics, with 93 attacks registered in the country, killing 179 people.

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