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Doctors and nurses collapsing as besieged Ghouta hospitals inundated with casualties: MSF

Thirteen MSF-backed hospitals in Eastern Ghouta have been bombed or shelled [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2018

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"The capacity to provide healthcare is in its final throes": MSF call for immediate ceasefire as it says medical staff in besieged Eastern Ghouta hospitals have reached their limits.
Doctors and nurses are collapsing in Eastern Ghouta's hospitals as they reach the brink of their physical capacity after working solidly to provide treatment to thousands of people injured in the relentless siege of Eastern Ghouta, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement on Saturday.

"The capacity to provide healthcare is in its final throes," the statement warned, adding that medical staff in the besieged enclave had, at the time of the statement's release, been working for six days straight without a break in medical facilities reduced to piles of rubble as Russian-backed Syrian regime forces continue to target hospitals.

"As a nurse who has worked through extremely grim conflicts, I am devastated to hear doctors and nurses in East Ghouta saying they have 100 wounded patients and no hospital because it has just been reduced to rubble by bombing," Meinie Nicolai, General Director of MSF, said in the statement.

"There is a level of desperation and exhaustion that comes from working round the clock, finding no time to sleep, no time to eat, permanently surrounded by bombing, and simply being in the middle of absolute distress. Adrenaline can only keep you going for so long. If doctors and nurses collapse, humanity collapses. We must be determined to not let that happen," she added.

Medics supported by the organisation reported on the third day of the siege they were running low on medical supplies.

On the sixth day of bombing, they reported that even with medical supplies, they did not have the physical capacity left to continue treating the rising number of casualties.

MSF has called on the UN to impose an immediate ceasefire, in order to allow for a reorganisation of the medical and humanitarian response to the crisis. 

"With high numbers of medical facilities hit and damaged or destroyed, with roads for transferring patients either impassable because of bomb-rubble or from fear of bombing, with medical supplies limited or entirely lacking, and with extraordinary numbers of patients and extraordinarily exhausted medics, a humanitarian response is urgently required." The statement read.

The ferocious bombardment of the opposition-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta is thought to have claimed over 500 civilian lives, including hundreds of children. Over 2,000 have been wounded.

Russian and Syrian regime air strikes have repeatedly targeted health facilities in the enclave. MSF reported that 13 medical facilities it supports in the region have been bombed or shelled. 

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