The day that the last remaining 5 hospitals in east Aleppo were bombed marked one of the lowest points in humanity, and was a devastating blow to me as a doctor, humanitarian, Syrian and human being.
I have been working on the humanitarian response in Syria for the last 5 years and witnessed these diligently documented and verified crimes against humanity as they occurred week in and week out until our healthcare system was reduced to rubble, over 750 of my medical colleagues killed and 6 million children left without the very basics of health services. When it comes to the Syrian war on civilians, we are not short on evidence of these atrocities and war crimes. What we are short on is action by our governments to stop the massacre of civilians and the targeting of hospitals and medics as a weapon of war.
That day was the catalyst for the People's Convoy. An idea that grew from a tiny seed to a global campaign in just 3 weeks. A movement that has brought together over 4,400 people from across the globe to crowd fund the first ever hospital raising the 91,432 GBP needed to rebuild and equip and entire children's hospital in North Aleppo area that will provide life saving care to 6,000 children a month. Loaded with the equipment needed for the hospital, we, the People's Convoy embarked on a 2,600+ mile journey from the UK across Europe to deliver the kit to the Syrian NGO partner the Independent Doctors Association.
This collective action is our combined way of challenging the fallacy that we, the people, have no power to change the status quo. Our way of saying in a loud and clear voice that whilst our governments may be crippled by indifference and a lack of vision, we are energised by our anger to mobilise popular support. The hospital is about saving precious little lives. but the journey is not. Paul Conroy, Dr Saleyha Ahsan, Mark Hannaford, Ken Metcalf and myself are travelling to the Syria border representing the millions of people around the world who could not watch on our screens what was happening and do nothing.
We wanted to swap our tears and screams at our screens with the chance to tell the courageous Syrian medics and humanitarians that they are not forgotten, they are not abandoned, that millions care. That we hear them and we see them and that we are all here in support and solidarity. We want to demonstrate the power of collective action and bring to life the issue of targeting of hospitals and abnormalise it again. To say it is unacceptable to live in a world where air strikes and barrel bombs repeatedly strike those caring for the sick and wounded, killing the patient and the carer.
This hospital is about reclaiming our humanitarian space and our right to protection of our medical neutrality as enshrined by the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian laws. this hospital is a message to war criminals that humanitarians, medics and human rights activists will not be silenced, will not be stopped from doing their life-saving work. We see their savagery, hate and cruelty and rise above it with renewed vigour and determination to stop attacks on our patients and their medics and will stand strong on our ethical, moral and legal grounds. If they destroy, we will rebuild.
The people have spoken and acted and I couldn't wish for a better Christmas present than this incredible display of human unity and am so honoured to be one of the messengers of hope and love. Next stop, the Syrian border.
Please continue to support the peoples convoy by donating at www.peoplesconvoy.com.