Elected to the United Nations World Health Organisation’s Executive Board: a regime that bombs hospitals, uses chemical weapons and blocks convoys of baby formula. Assad’s Syria.

6 July 2021 By Paul Martin

The Syrian regime has been elected to a leading role in the World Health Organisation (WHO). In May, the war-torn country’s rulers won a seat on the WHO Executive Board.

Throughout the course of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian regime has displaced half the country’s population. It has depopulated whole cities and villages by bombing hospitals and schools, thereby undermining the principle of medical neutrality and impartiality—which mandates noninterference with medical services in times of armed conflict and civil unrest.

According to Zaher Sahloul, president of MedGlobal, writing in Foreign Policy, the regime has also starved its people by blocking convoys of humanitarian aid—including those carrying baby formula—from reaching besieged civilians.

It has also used prohibited chemical weapons more than 300 times, with children frequently among the victims, and allowed infections like polio and leishmaniasis that were effectively eradicated in Syria to resurface by blocking vaccines and medications from reaching regions that fell under the control of the opposition. The life expectancy of a Syrian child has been reduced by 13 years.

Deeply ironically, Syria has an executive seat now in the same organisation that reported last year that it had documented 494 attacks on health care facilities in Syria from 2016 to 2019, mainly in areas under assault by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.