Syria Elected to WHO Executive Board, Activists Outraged

GENEVA, May 29, 2021 — Syria was elected to the World Health Organization’s executive board on Friday, sparking outrage among human rights activists worldwide.

“Syria’s election is a travesty,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights group based in Switzerland. “It’s like appointing a pyromaniac to be the town fire chief.”

“Syria’s Assad regime, with the help of its allies Russia and Iran, systematically bombs hospitals and clinics, killing doctors, nurses, and others as they care for the sick and injured. Health professionals have also been arrested, disappeared, imprisoned, tortured and executed. Electing this murderous regime to govern the world’s top health body is an insult to Assad’s millions of victims, and sends a terrible message,” said Neuer.

White Helmets, the Syrian civil defense group of emergency medical workers, also condemned the election. “We are appalled by the WHO’s decision to reward the Assad regime for destroying hospitals and killing doctors and refusing to provide medical assistance to Syrians by electing it as a member of its executive board,” tweeted the group.

Neuer called on UN chief Antonio Guterres and WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to denounce Syria’s election.

Over the past 10 years in Syria, there were 598 attacks on health care facilities and personnel, 350 health care facilities were targeted, and 930 medical professionals were killed, according to Physicians For Human Rights.

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