GENEVA, 30th September, 2016 (WAM) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has demanded that belligerents in Syria allow the sick and wounded in conflict zones, including eastern Aleppo, to be evacuated immediately.

“The situation is heartrending and enraging,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, while also calling for a halt on attacks on healthcare workers and facilities.

“With the relentless attacks on health workers and hospitals, the handful of doctors still alive cannot possibly cope. Hospital beds are too few, equipment has been destroyed, and essential medicines, including anaesthetics, are running out. Among the many patients needing emergency trauma care are children,” she said.

More than 270 000 people are trapped in east Aleppo with supplies of food, water and fuel dwindling. Humanitarian organisations have been stopped from delivering aid, including medical supplies from the WHO since the city was besieged on 7th July. In the past week, over 840 people have been injured, almost a third of them children, while the health facilities that would treat them are crumbling and understaffed. Fewer than 30 doctors remain in the east of the city, and only six partially-functional hospitals are in service.

The WHO and partners have positioned medical supplies for delivery into eastern Aleppo, but they have not been granted access.

The organisation has also developed strategies for medical evacuations as soon as this becomes possible. In the meantime, the WHO will train first responders on trauma care via telephone and video calls.