Monday, March 12, 2012

First Hand View From Ground In Syria of Assad's Atrocities

A doctor who is among the founders of the group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Dr. Jacques Bérès, managed to get himself smuggled into Syria so that he could help those suffering from Bashar al Assad's assault on those opposed to his regime.

He's treated hundreds of patients in the short time he's been in Syria, and his report is a sad commentary on the ongoing deprivations by the Assad regime. Far from specifically targeting terrorists or rebel forces, Assad's forces indiscriminately fire on civilians causing all manner of grievous injury and death to women and children.
His journey into Syria began in early February when he crossed the Lebanese border with the help of smugglers, carrying luggage filled with medical equipment. He then traveled by car and motorbike to Al Qusayr, another besieged city that is part of Homs Province, where he worked for a few days with a Syrian doctor. When he finally made it to Homs, he spent about two weeks there.

In Homs, he was forced to move once — “I sensed that the building had become a target for government forces” — and conditions were far from ideal. “The place was so crowded that we had to walk between the stretchers,” Dr. Bérès said in an interview late last month in his Paris apartment, just days after returning.

“I treated all kinds of wounds, from heavy mortars, shots from long-range sniper rifles, high-velocity rounds, shrapnel,” he said. His makeshift hospital was only a few minutes from Baba Amr, the neighborhood that saw some of the heaviest shelling and fighting.

One day, he said, 11 people died in his hospital, some before he could even begin to treat them. “Some of them had brain damage and arrived already dead,” Dr. Bérès said. “Others were so severely injured that they could not be saved.”

Many of his patients were minors, he said. At least 400 children have died since the beginning of the uprising, according to Unicef.

He was clearly affected by the death of a teenage boy, “who had pale skin, handsome features, a slightly mischievous look and a cap on his head which made him look like Gavroche in Victor Hugo’s ‘Misérables.’ ” The boy, Dr. Bérès said, “had almost been cut into two.”

Dr. Bérès left Syria before the government began its all-out assault on Homs in late February. “I was sad,” he told the French radio network RTL after his return to Paris. “I saw useless suffering, cruelty, meanness, the suffering of children, of families.”

But those who worked with him described Dr. Bérès as a remarkable man, and praised his composure and quiet energy in the face of suffering and death.
As an aside, this is one of the reasons that I've repeatedly donated to MSF/DWB over the past couple of years - they manage to do amazing things under incredible circumstances and at great risk to themselves and those they help.

The ongoing atrocities in Syria increase the butcher's bill for Assad, and there's still little movement on the diplomatic front to bring more pressure to bear against Assad.

Assad's security forces have mined the border with Turkey to prevent the rebel groups from reinforcing their forces from across the border and to limit refugees from crossing to safety.

No comments: