Artwork by Syrian artist Azza Abo Rebieh
The Syrian regime has just declared the first case of coronavirus in Syria after weeks of denial. The real number of cases is likely higher.
An outbreak in Syria would be horror beyond imagination. Thousands of displaced families living in overcrowded camps simply cannot self-isolate. Health infrastructures in the country have collapsed due to the systematic targeting of hospitals and medical workers by the Syrian regime and Russia.
Especially vulnerable are the nearly 100,000 detainees and forcibly disappeared people, many of whom are held in cramped underground centers where they are exposed to horrific conditions including torture and deprivation of proper food, drinking water, hygiene, and medical care. These cells are already perfect breeding grounds for viruses and illnesses, and if coronavirus spreads containment will be impossible.
Join families of Syrian detainees in demanding urgent action to release all detainees held in prisons and unofficial detention centers amid the rapid global spread of COVID-19.
At the very least, the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, with the heads of the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, and the UN in Damascus must do everything in their power to prevent the spread of coronavirus amid detainees. This includes ensuring that international medical and humanitarian organizations are allowed to regularly access detention facilities to improve health conditions and provide critical sanitary supplies and medical treatment for detainees.
For years Syrians have experienced every kind of death: by barrel bombs, chemical weapons, starvation, drowning, and torture. Unless the UN grows a backbone and acts now, countless detainees will experience death by coronavirus in underground dungeons. Please sign the petition.