Assessing the status of medical facilities in Syria

Date Published: 
14 May 2014

At the request of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) undertook an assessment of high-resolution satellite imagery to examine medical facilities in several cities across Syria: Aleppo, Douma (a suburb of Damascus), Homs, Idlib, and Tafas (north of Dar’a). The purpose of the assessment was to verify reports of damage and destruction to the facilities. These reports had been gathered through traditional news media, social media, and PHR’s network of on-the-ground contacts. Due to the high levels of conflict occurring across the country, it is difficult to verify both the location and dates of damage reports. Satellite imagery analysis provides a means to perform this verification remotely.

The most severe damage observed occurred to Amal Hospital, located in the city of Homs, which has been one of the cities most impacted by the ongoing civil war. Damage was apparent in the area surrounding the hospital in the months prior to its complete destruction in July 2012 and further damage to the area was observed afterward. The other hospital that AAAS was able to confirm sustained damage was Zahri Azrak Hospital in Aleppo, another city heavily impacted by the ongoing conflict. Satellite imagery confirmed reports of damage to the hospital. While no damage was visible to Hamdan Hospital in Douma, imagery revealed severe damage to buildings across the street from the hospital. Finally, AAAS was not able to confirm reports of damage to the National Hospital located in Tafas or to assess the status of the hospital in Idlib, due to insufficient imagery.

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Assessing the status of medical facilities in Syria