June 1, 2016

The Best Whatsapp Ever

Amazing news. Here’s the message the Syria Campaign received from Dr Zaher on Whatsapp:


 It was less than 24 hours after we came together and sent thousands of messages in response to his urgent appeal to protect the hospital in Marea from Isis (his original email is below).

This shows what we can achieve. But we can do so much more. There have been more than 250 hospitals and clinics attacked in Syria – the vast majority attacked by the Assad regime – and last night another was hit following suspected Russian air strikes.

We need to raise our game. Today we launch the first ever fundraising drive for The Syria Campaign. We need to build a broad base of thousands of people around the world willing to power this work. Please chip in $5 a week (or whatever you can afford) to ensure these campaigns continue and expand.

Together we have had incredible impact to date.

We raised half-a-million dollars for rescue workers, helped release millions more for them from governments, banned Europe from fuelling barrel bombs, stopped Facebook advertising Assad, pushed European politicians to start looking at torture, made award-winning films of everyday Syrian heroes that have moved millions and been shown to dozens of world leaders, including in the White House. And only last week we pushed governments to call for airdrops of aid to the most hungry civilians living under siege, if the land routes remain blocked.

There is so much more we can do as this powerful group of more than 200,000 people committed to protect civilians in Syria. If we can fund the core costs – from the technology to the legal advice – of the tiny team of Syrians and non-Syrians that coordinate this work around the globe, we can grow in strength and impact.

Thank you for giving what you can, the price of a weekly coffee can ensure we stay independent and effective.

James, Bissan, Laila, Simon, Manal, Mohammed, Katarina and Anna.

Original email from Dr Zaher at the weekend:

Dear friends,

This is incredibly urgent. When I spoke to my friend last night, he said that Isis fighters had reached his hospital’s car park. They wanted to take the medical staff as hostages.

The Free Hospital in the northern town of Marea has two specialisms — one is a surgical facility and the other for women and children. For years its 36 medical staff have worked to provide healthcare for the 12,000 civilians left in the town — over half are women and children.

When I visited the hospital last year, the situation was critical. I contacted US Ambassador Samantha Power and told her that Isis were only a few kilometers away.

Now the hospital could be overrun any minute. Please send an urgent message to Ambassador Power and the US administration to protect this hospital, now.

The town of Marea in northern Syria is being attacked on all sides. By Isis, by the Assad regime and also by Kurdish forces. Isis hate this town particularly because it represents a non-jihadist view of Syria. The people in Marea detest extremism and there are no extremists there. They want to be free of the Assad regime and groups like Isis.

The US and others have done nothing so far to protect this town. The messages I get over Whatsapp from the head doctor are heartbreaking. If the world cannot protect his hospital and patients from Isis then nobody knows what will happen.

It really doesn’t get more urgent than this. Please join me in a call to Ambassador Power and the US administration to protect this hospital and the civilians in the town.

Ambassador Power has long championed the voices of Syria’s medics, now is the time to really prove it. This week we saw published photos of US soldiers on the ground in Syria fighting Isis. But why have they turned their back on Marea? Why are they indifferent to this hospital on the front line?

Thank you for supporting this urgent call.

Dr Zaher Sahloul 
Chairman of the Syrian American Medical Society’s Global Response