In these days the fate of the Syrian province of Idlib – one will again. A month ago, Russia and Turkey had agreed on the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib. Thus, a military offensive by the Syrian army should be turned against the rebels in the province.
Now, the deadline for the implementation of this agreement ends. The nearly three million people in Idlib hope that the fragile ceasefire continues in the province.
The physician Ahmad Tarakji has just returned from Idlib. Tarakji was born in Aleppo, but lives for decades in California. 20 years ago, he founded the Syrian American Medical Society. In the organization have been living in the US, Syrians, to help physicians in their home country. Since the beginning of the civil war in 2011, the Alliance has significantly increased its Engagement, and dozens of supported hospitals in Syria.
To the Person in the MIRROR ONLINE Dr. Ahmad Tarakji is the President of the Syrian American Medical Society. He lives in Fresno, California, and is there as a heart surgeon. Several times a year he travels to Syria to support Doctors in the civil war country.
In an Interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE speaks Tarakji about the humanitarian situation in Idlib, the hopes of the Syrians, and the attacks on medical facilities.
MIRROR ONLINE : Mr Tarakji, you are just returned from Idlib. How would you describe the humanitarian situation on the ground?
Ahmad Tarakji : I have visited the five largest hospitals in the Region. The medical staff is still determined to continue its work. The Problem is the dwindling support by the UN and the world health organization (WHO). The inventories of simple drugs such as antibiotics in the hospitals only for a week. The gaps must then be from non-governmental organizations have been closed. Or the patients must buy the medicines on the black market, which is very expensive.
Tarakji with employees in Syrian hospital
MIRROR ONLINE : What are the reasons for the lack of support from the UN and WHO are they?
Tarakji : for A time both good reasons not to provide too much Material in the hospitals because the facilities have been bombed so often by the Syrian and Russian army. But now it is becoming clear that the Syrian government influences the offices of the UN and the WHO in Damascus. You bend before the pressure of the government, which prohibits its offices in Damascus and even to communicate with the hospitals, the controls are located in regions outside of the government. This has the consequence that we have asked a year ago WHO, to supply hospitals with drugs against tuberculosis. We are still waiting.
MIRROR ONLINE : How has the ceasefire in Idlib?
Tarakji : The ceasefire has given the people hope. They have started repair of damaged roads and houses, there are markets where farmers, flowers and pomegranates to sell. But the people are sceptical about the durability of the cease-fire. We hope to have a permanent, country-wide cease-fire. But for this we need an international protection umbrella is not only a Deal between Russia and Turkey.
market in the province of Idlib
MIRROR ONLINE : The so-called Geneva peace process under UN leadership would be the right context for it.
Tarakji : Yes. But the Problem is that the civil society in Geneva is not represented, large parts of the Syrian people feel not represented. But the civil society is the guarantee for a stable future. Civil society representatives need to get into the political process a voice and I call on Germany and the EU, for strong.
MIRROR ONLINE: Many of their colleagues have been killed in the past years, in case of intentional attacks on hospitals. Nevertheless, the United Nations have transmitted the coordinates of the hospitals in Idlib to the governments of Russia and Syria. You think it’s right?
Tarakji : to be Honest, it was even our idea. Syrian and Russian drones have followed the ambulance from the air. So you have found out where our hospitals are, and have attacked you then. So our hospitals were for you anyway, no longer a secret. We wanted that Russia takes responsibility, and no excuse for the attacks. Since we have made the coordinates public, have been bombarded with six hospitals. Unfortunately, there has been no strong reaction from the UN. We call for a condemnation by the security Council.