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A Hospital in Aleppo is the Most Dangerous Place in the World

25 November 2016

The targeting of medical facilities and personnel in Syria by government forces and Russian warplanes has been regarded by many as unprecendented in modern human history. Not only hospitals are being destroyed as a result of bombings and barrel bombs, but health facilities, ambulances and medical staff are also deliberately targeted. Earlier this year, Eastern Aleppo City lost its last pediatrician. In the past few days, hospitals in Aleppo have been so repeatedly attacked by intense govenrment airstrikes that local sources say hospitals are no longer functioning. Read the message of Dr. Salem from Aleppo and show your support! The letter is available in several languages below.


A hospital in Aleppo is the most dangerous place in the world.

Dr. Salem, who is currently in besieged east Aleppo City, pleas in a statement released a few days ago:

“I am required to stay safe in the most dangerous city in the world. They tell me to ‘take care’, as if I am driving a car and need to drive safe. I would rather they tell the warplanes planes not to bomb us. I would rather they tell that pilot not to drop missiles. I would rather they tell that rocket not to explode. I would rather they speak out loud, and fill the world with their screams, condemning the war and those who wage it.”

Hospitals are being destroyed by Syrian government and Russian warplanes across Syria. A hospital is targeted every 17 hours. A health worker is murdered every 63 hours. In the past 144 days, there have been 143 attacks on medical facilities and personnel. More than a third occurred in besieged Aleppo, and all were perpetrated by the Syrian government and its allies.

These hospitals are deliberately targeted, according to reports by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Attacking a hospital decimates the neighborhoods depending on its services.

Doctors prioritize the lives of their patients above their own safety. They continue to serve regardless of how unsafe the hospitals are and how scarce their resources are. To be a medical worker in Syria, saving the lives of anyone in need regardless of background or political views, is the most honorable yet dangerous job in the world. We must honor their service and strive to meet them halfway.

We ask you to take action for the sake of the doctors and medical staff who are risking their lives to save others, for the sake of the humanitarians who lost their lives in the process, for those who are living up to the medical oath they took towards humanity. We ask you to take action, as fellow doctors and medical workers.

Show your solidarity with Syria’s doctors and medical personnel. Here is how you can do so:

– Take a 30 minute strike, on Friday, November 25, at 4:00 pm Syria-time (9:00 am EST – USA / 2:00 pm GMT). 

– Take a photo with a sign displaying your message of support. Post it on social media with the hashtags #NeverAgainIsNow and #SaveSyriasMedics.

– Tell your fellow healthcare colleagues, neighbors, patients, friends, and anyone in your networks that these doctors deserve our attention, respect, and support.

– Most importantly, call your elected officials and demand that hospitals in Syria, which are neutral, protected spaces under international humanitarian law, be treated as such and for the perpetrators of attacks against the medical community to be held accountable.

Targeting a hospital is a war crime. Let us show the world that hospitals and doctors should not be targets in anyone’s war. Our integrity as an international community that believes in humanitarian principles rests on this moment. We cannot stand by while war crimes are committed again and again, while the world watches idly. #NeverAgainIsNow


Read and share the letter and call for solidarity in French, Czech, Deutsch, Dutch, and Spanish

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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