Protesters slam choice of Syria for board of UN health body

Bozz District

BEIRUT — Dozens of medical workers in rebel-held northwest Syria on Monday protested a decision to grant President Bashar Assad’s government a seat on the executive board of the World Health Organization. They said Assad is responsible for bombing hospitals and clinics across the war-ravaged country. The decision to give […]

BEIRUT — Dozens of medical workers in rebel-held northwest Syria on Monday protested a decision to grant President Bashar Assad’s government a seat on the executive board of the World Health Organization. They said Assad is responsible for bombing hospitals and clinics across the war-ravaged country.

The decision to give Syria a seat came a decade into the country’s devastating civil war that has left untold numbers of civilians — including many health care workers — dead and injured.

The selection of Syria at a little-noticed session Saturday of the WHO’s annual assembly — which brings together all member states of the U.N. health agency — has evoked outrage in opposition-held Idlib province.

Rifaat Farhat, a senior health official in Idlib, said the move “contradicts all international and humanitarian laws.”

Syria was among 12 WHO member states that were chosen to appoint new members for the 34-member board in an assembly vote that faced no debate or opposition.

Syria will take up the seat for the executive board’s next session, which begins Wednesday.

The revelation was highlighted by the advocacy group UN Watch, which keeps tabs on perceived hypocrisies and other shortcomings of the world body and its affiliated organizations like WHO.

The board is largely a technical group whose role is to carry out the decisions of, and advise, the assembly, which is made up of all WHO member states and has been meeting since May 24.

“We reject the idea that our killer and he who destroyed our hospitals be represented on the executive board,” read a banner carried by some of the protesters in Idlib on Monday. Some two dozen medical staff members protested outside the main health department.

Citizen journalist Salwa Abdul-Rahman, who is based in Idlib province — the last rebel stronghold in the country — said he worried a representative of the government could work on cutting medical assistance to the region that is home to millions of people.

Syria’s war has left half a million people dead and driven millions out of the country since the conflict erupted in 2011. Investigators working for the U.N.’s main human rights body and international advocacy groups have reported that the Assad government and its allies — like Russia and Iran — have been responsible for the destruction of health care facilities as part of the years of fighting.

Hundreds of medical facilities have been bombed, mostly in government airstrikes; half the hospitals and health centers are functioning only partially or not at all, while 70% of the medical personnel have fled the country.

A WHO emergency appeal for Syria issued in March said at least 12.4 million people are in need of assistance in Syria, and the “essential health service infrastructure such as hospitals and health care centers are in a state of disrepair.”

By the end of December, it said, only half of the country’s assessed public hospitals were reported to be fully functioning. Up to half of Syria’s health care workforce has left the country.

___

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

rn% endblock %","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup-optimizely/start"},{"id":"limit-signup","count":12,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":"template":"% extends "grid" %rnrn% block heading_text %Youu2019ve read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Sign up now for local coverage you wonu2019t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world right at your fingertips. % endblock %rnrn% block last %rn parent() rn# limit Krux pixel from https://www.squishlist.com/strib/customshop/328/ #rnrnrn% endblock %","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup/start"},"id":"meter-desktop-331","count":10,"action":"ignore","mute":false,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/meter-desktop-331/start","id":"PDA991499opt","count":9,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/PDA991499opt/start","id":"limit","count":8,"action":"inject","mute":false,"action_config":"template":"

rnrnrnrn

rn

rn

rn rn

rn t

rn SUBSCRIBErn Already a subscriber? Log in.rn

rn

All Star Tribune readers without a Digital Access subscription are given a limited number of complimentary articles every 30 days. Once the article limit is reached we ask readers to purchase a subscription including Digital Access to continue reading. Digital Access is included in all multi-day paper home delivery, Sunday + Digital, and Premium Digital Access subscriptions. After the 1 month Premium Digital Access introductory period you will be charged at a rate of $14.99 per month. You can see all subscription options or login to an existing subscription herern

rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn

rn","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit/start"},{"id":"nag","count":7,"action":"lightbox","mute":true,"action_config":{"height":null,"width":"630px","redirect_on_close":null,"template":"% extends "shell" %rnrn% block substyles %rn

rn% endblock %rnrn% block page %rn#rnrn limit - count - 1 rnrn form.flow_form_open(nextAction: 'firstSlide', null, null, '_top') rn form.btn('Save Now') rn form.flow_form_close() rnrn

rnrnrnu2022 rnrnrnrn#rn

rn

rn

You have limit - count - 1 articles left

rn

rn rn u00a0u00a0u2022u00a0u00a0rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn Save More Todayrn

Over 70% off!

rn

rn

rn

rn

99u00a2 for first 4 weeks

rn form.flow_form_open(nextAction: 'firstSlide', null, null, '_top') rn form.button('Save Now', 'btn nag-btn') rn form.flow_form_close() rn

rn

rn% endblock %rnrn% block last %rn parent() rnrn% endblock %"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/nag/start"},"id":"x","count":4,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/x/start","id":"multi-start","count":3,"action":"fly_in","mute":true,"action_config":"location":"bottom_left","slide_direction":"bottom","group_id":null,"display_delay":"0","collapse_delay":"10","template":"

rn

rn

rn

rn u00d7rn

rn

rn

From just

rn

$3.79 99u00a2 a week

rn Save nowrn

rn

rn

","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/multi-start/start"]};

Next Post

Exploring CAR T-cell therapy to treat breast cancer

Credit: NIH Peter Mac researchers are developing a potential new way to make CAR T-cell therapy more effective against breast cancer and other solid cancers. CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy where a patient’s own immune cells are collected and reengineered, before being infused back into the patient […]