Latest casualty in Syria: Medicines

The World Health Organization said Syrians are in urgent need of lifesaving medicines and medical supplies. Photo by: ThomasThomas / CC BY-NC

In a country that once produced nearly 90 percent of its own medicines, Syrians are now in urgent need of lifesaving pharmaceutical products, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO has distributed medical aid to 700,000 people in Syria, but “cannot cover the needs of a big country and cannot cover the gap of pharmaceutical centers that have shut down,” spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said at a press briefing in Geneva.

Violence in Syria has killed an estimated 17,000 people, reportedly mostly civilians, since the uprising against President Bashar Assad launched 17 months ago. It has intensified in recent days.

While WHO also echoed World Food Program’s recent calls for “immediate food assistance,” the European Union’s foreign aid chief spoke out for the need to preserve humanitarian space for the conflict’s civilian victims.

Catherine Ashton, high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, said Lebanon has a “very clear obligation” to not send arriving Syrian refugees back to a state where they could be subjected to torture.

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    Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is an award-winning journalist based in New York City. Her coverage on politics, social justice issues, development and climate change has appeared in a variety of international news outlets, including The Guardian, Slate and The Atlantic. She has reported from the U.N. Headquarters, in addition to nine countries outside of the U.S. Amy received her master of arts degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2014. Last year she completed a yearlong fellowship on the oil industry and climate change and co-published her findings with a team in the Los Angeles Times.

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