On Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria held a meeting at Committee Room 21 at the House of Commons. The meeting was organised by the SBMS, in co-operation with UOSSM, to highlight the tragic conditions under which our colleagues in Syria are working.
The first part of the meeting was chaired by Mr Roger Godsiff, MP, and consisted of a series of short presentations over a 30-minute period, by the Charity Goal Global, outlining their very important work in northern Syria, providing food and clean water to the displaced communities, as well as the host communities supporting them.
Then, after a short Q & A session, Dr Ayman Jundi, the SBMS President, took over the Chair for the rest of the afternoon. He gave an overview of the topic at hand: Protection of Healthcare Workforce and Infrastructure. After outlining the scale of the problem, and the challenges facing healthcare professionals in Syria, he introduced the illustrious panel of experts to the audience.
Dr David Nott, the world-renowned Conflict Zone Surgeon, spoke of his experiences in Syria, highlighting the dangers that healthcare workers are facing every day in Syria.
Dr Ghanem Tayara, Chairman of the International Union of Humanitarian Medical Care Organisations (UOSSM), spoke about the scale of the devastation that has been inflicted on the healthcare systems in Syria, and the impact this has had on healthcare.
Following on, Mr Hamish De Bretton-Gordon, a former British Army Commander, and one of the World’s leading experts on CBRN Warfare and Counterterrorism, gave a comprehensive account of what can be done to protect healthcare staff and facilities.
Then, Mr Toby Cadman, a barrister and a leading authority on international humanitarian law, gave a detailed and authoritative explanation of the legal implications for the deliberate attacks on medical staff and facilities, and the levels of evidence and documentation required for any future war crime prosecution against all perpetrators of such heinous acts.
Finally, we managed to establish a Skype link with Dr Abdulazziz Al-Adel, a Syrian Trauma Surgeon still working in Aleppo. He gave a first-hand description of the level of devastation affecting the healthcare sector and healthcare staff in Syria, and explained the day-to-day dangers and difficulties that they face in their daily struggle to provide a modicum of health care to the besieged civilian population, under the shadow of barrel bombs and precision air strikes.
A lively Q & A session followed, and there was an enthusiastic and thought-provoking debate about all the issues that were raised in the discussion.
This was an excellent opportunity for our Society to take our case to the decision-makers, and to give a loud and clear voice to our ongoing struggle to ensure the safety of our brave colleagues, who are risking their lives to save others, in extremely difficult circumstances.
Following the meeting, we have received numerous pledges for support and help, and we are now in contact with a number of organisations, trying to keep the momentum behind this vital work.
We aim to build on the unquestionable success of this meeting, and we will continue to do all that we can to provide our magnificent colleagues in Syria with all the help, support, and protection that they need and deserve.
We are very grateful to Mr Roger Godsiff MP for sponsoring this meeting, and to the Staff of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria, for all their hard work to ensure that the meeting was a success.
We are also immensely grateful, and deeply appreciative, for the profound wisdom, eloquence, and authority with which our illustrious Panel of Experts have presented their cases to the audience. Their unwavering support and boundless commitment to helping the Syria and her People will never be forgotten.