The Syrian American Medical Society came to Boston this weekend to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis unfolding inside Syria, where the ongoing civil war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
“As citizens we have a responsibility to stop the atrocities in Syria,” said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, one of dozens of medical practitioners and advocates in Boston to present at a society symposium from Friday to Sunday.
The Washington-based volunteer organization of medical practitioners operates more than 100 health centers in Syria and nearby countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The society also is pressing US lawmakers to increase humanitarian assistance to Syrians.
Omar Salem, a Syrian-American orthodontist who spoke at the symposium, said the organization’s largest trauma hospital in Aleppo was destroyed last week by bombing attacks from forces loyal to the government, killing three and injuring two.
“We are firm believers of diplomacy as a way to solve this war, but I think we’re running out of time,” Salem said.
The level of destruction in Aleppo has only increased since a fleeting American- and Russian-brokered cease-fire collapsed in late September, Chicago-based advocate Lina Sergie Attar said.
Attar, a graduate of the University of Aleppo and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cofounded the Karam Foundation. The foundation, a partner organization of the society, provides technology and leadership programs for displaced Syrian children.
Disillusioned with the international community’s response to the crisis, Attar said she is urging US citizens to get involved through advocacy, donations, and outreach.
“People have a responsibility to know that these war crimes are being committed against an entire population, under our watch,” Attar said. “Our generation is the generation that is watching genocide happen right before its eyes.”
Attar said the public can help by donating to Syrian charities and petitioning lawmakers to take action in Syria and increase the number of refugees granted asylum in the United States.
“For Syrians, knowing they’re being destroyed by the air force of the government itself, it’s devastating,” Attar said. “Syria is dying.”