Chronicle Of Hypocrisy: Syria In WHO’s Executive Board

Appointing Syria in such a critical position sends a message to other countries that violating human rights is a norm. 

In the midst of attacks against hospitals and clinics, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Syria will join the executive board. Indeed, the decision appalled and angered opposition groups, including international medical organizations. 

The world is facing a global pandemic and the role of WHO is crucial to help thwart the spread of the Coronavirus. Hence, appointing Syria to the executive branch exposes the double standards of the member states.  

According to official reports, the decision was made by the Eastern Mediterranean group, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.   

Now more than ever, the regime can use its position to halt any future investigations regarding its war crimes in Syria. 

“It was really, really shocking,” says Houssam al Nahhas, a researcher for the US-based Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit that investigates and documents human rights violations. 

Nahhas lived in Syria and studied Medicine at the University of Aleppo. At that time, he helped treat people who had been wounded in anti-government protests.  

“Throughout my detention period, they were focusing on my role as a physician, who I was treating. and how I got medical supplies,” he tells NPR. “They wanted to know the names of the other healthcare providers that were working with me.” 

At such a critical time where the world is fighting a global pandemic, under the leadership of the WHO, appointing Syria to such a critical position sends a message to other countries that violating human rights is a norm. 

How can we trust World Health Organization [of] which one of its executive board members is the murderer who is killing my colleagues, my friends?” Dr. Salem Abdan, Head of Health Directorate for Idlib said. 

 Abdalhamied Sharaf Aldein, a doctor in rebel-held northern Syria, said: “If we were in the operation room [when the strike hit] we couldn’t leave the patient, even if our lives were in danger,” Sharaf Aldein says.

The Syrian regime will have access to all WHO decisions and is expected to play a significant role in the execution of the main policies.

The International Rescue Team announced that at least 14 civilians were killed amid government attacks on hospitals in Aleppo.

We utterly condemn this deadly attack on Al-Shifaa Hospital, one of the largest medical facilities in northern Syria. This is the 11th attack on health care that has been recorded so far this year, and brings the total number of verified attacks on health care since January 2019 to 124,” Wolfgang Gressmann, the International Rescue committee’s acting Country Director for Syria said.

Despite the wide body of evidence that shows that the Syrian regime has committed war crimes and attacked health facilities, the international community remains silent.

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