The Phaserl


Syria: Challenging the MSF Narratives and Bias in Aleppo

Open Letter to MSF/Doctors Without Borders

by Rick Sterling, Dissident Voice, via 21st Century Wire:

Dear MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu,

Your organization is well regarded and influential.  I appreciate that many good people work for and support MSF/Doctors Without Borders.  However, I need to inquire about your independence and the consequences of your work in Syria. I believe an objective look will reveal that while you are helping in some areas, you are causing harm in others.

Following are questions on this important issue:

1: As you know, Aleppo is a large city with the government forces holding western Aleppo while other parts of the city are dominated by armed opposition groups, primarily Nusra/Al Qaeda.  About 1.5 to 2 million people live in the government areas with about 200 to 250 thousand in the areas controlled by armed opposition. So 80-90 % of the population is in government-controlled areas. This is rarely mentioned but seems important.  Given this fact, is it true that you provide aid and support only to the opposition held areas?

2: On April 21 the Western and Gulf backed “High Negotiations Committee” announced they were quitting the Geneva negotiations. The next day, hundreds of mortars and bombs started being launched into western Aleppo from the zones controlled by Nusra and other terrorist groups.

These bombs are powerful, wounding and killing indiscriminately. Syrian journalist Edward Dark noted that western media and groups such as MSF were silent on this even though hospitals were being hit, dozens of children and civilians killed. On twitter he reported day by day …..

“West Aleppo is simply being obliterated by rebel shelling. A city of 2 million people is being butchered.”

“Carnage and devastation as ‘moderate rebel’ bombs fall on west Aleppo like rain”

“Terrorist rebel bombs are still falling like rain on west Aleppo. 15 people murdered at a mosque in Bab Faraj after Friday prayers”

“This is the hospital where my son was born. Dabeet Hospital in W.Aleppo completely destroyed by rebel shelling.”

Has MSF denounced these killings and attacks on hospitals in western Aleppo?

3: The unconcern about indiscriminate attacks and killing in government-held areas of Aleppo has also been denounced by Syrian-Canadian physician Dr. Nabil Antaki. He has recently written:

“With regards to recent events in Aleppo, I state very clearly that the mainstream media are lying by omission… All of us here in Aleppo are disgusted by their lack of impartiality and objectivity.

They only talk about the loss of life in east of Aleppo which is entirely controlled by Al Nusra…. These are their ‘moderate rebels’ …This same media remains silent on the daily losses and suffering endured in the Western areas of Aleppo living under the rain of mortar fire from these terrorist factions.

This media never mentions the continuous bombardment and the carnage we have witnessed in western Aleppo where every single sector has been targeted. On a daily basis we see dozens of people murdered…..

For three days now, these media outlets have been accusing the “Assad regime” of bombing an MSF hospital to the east of Aleppo and of killing the last pediatrician in the city. This demonstrates that, for these media, the only priority is this pocket of the city where terrorists are embedded. The three quarters of Aleppo under Syrian government control, where numerous pediatricians are practicing, is of no consequence.”

Dr. Liu, will you meet with Dr. Antaki?  Perhaps he could give you a tour and confirm to you what he says. He is a well known and respected doctor in Aleppo and fellow Canadian citizen.

4: There are many discrepancies in reports about the April 27 attack on Al Quds Hospital.  MSF Middle East Operations Manager Pablo Marco, interviewed the next day on CNN and PBS Newshour, said “there were two barrel bombs that fell close to the hospital …. then the third barrel bomb fell in the entrance of the hospital”.

Barrel bombs are only delivered by helicopters. In contrast, your press release the same day says “the hospital was destroyed by at least one airstrike which directly hit the building, “reducing it to rubble.”

A CBC report continued this version, claiming “An MSF-supported hospital in the northern Syria city of Aleppo is now a pile of rubble. Airstrikes brought down the building on Wednesday.”

The hospital photograph indicates it is not a “pile of rubble” and it’s unclear where the damage is. The sandbag reinforcement and damaged car in front indicate it might have been a battle scene but the rest is unclear.  Which story is correct and accurate?

The number of fatalities has varied from initial death counts of 14 to later reports of over 50. How are these numbers verified?

5: MSF representatives Pablo Marco and Muskilda Zancada suggest is was a deliberate and intentional attack on the hospital.  In an interview Ms. Zancada says “Al Quds Hospital has been functional for more than 4 years so it was basically impossible that this information was not known… The facts are pointing to this being a deliberate attack.”

In contrast with Ms. Zancada’s assertions, most Aleppans have never heard of “Al Quds Hospital”. The “hospital” did not exist before the conflict and the photo shows an unidentified apartment building.  Is it accurate to call this facility a “hospital”?

Mr. Marco claimed that MSF supported personnel visited the hospital every other week so there must be many reports, documents and photos confirming whether it was a 34 bed hospital. Otherwise, it seems fair to say this was actually a medical clinic in the ground floor of an unmarked and largely abandoned apartment building.

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