The National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) and the NAAMA Foundation announced the purchase and delivery of two newly equipped ambulances to Damascus for further delivery to two of the Syrian cities hardest hit by the ongoing violence in that country. Outfitted in Beirut, Lebanon, the two Nissan ambulances were delivered yesterday to representatives of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Damascus. From there, they will be disbursed for use in two other cities.
In addition, through the NAAMA Auxiliary, donations have gone to the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization for Relief and Development to provide medical care to the Syrian refugees in that country, of which there are tens of thousands.
Since the outbreak of violence in Syria over a year ago, NAAMA has been seeking effective humanitarian aid that would be allowed into the country. Under U.S. General License 11 and with SARC assurance that these ambulances would be put to their intended purpose, NAAMA has been able to act in a decisive way to help alleviate the suffering of victims of violence.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), there have been repeated incidents in which ambulances were shot at and volunteers wounded and the installation of checkpoints and harassment have prevented ambulances and medical workers from evacuating and treating the wounded, some of whom have died as a result.
Dr. Aziz Shaibani, president of NAAMA, said, “NAAMA recognizes that so much more equipment and medical supplies are needed in the areas affected by violence. These ambulances are but our first tangible outreach. We have issued repeated calls for the violence to stop, to no avail.
“This concrete gesture to send ambulances to care for the sick and dying represents the concern and heartbreak of all our members, Syrian and non-Syrian, for the welfare of the people of Syria.”
As physicians and as Americans of Arab descent, NAAMA continues to express deep sympathy for the Syrian people living through senseless violence. And again, NAAMA unequivocally denounces the recent suicide bombing in Damascus that claimed the lives of another 55 people. The United Nations estimates the death of 9,000 people since the conflict in Syria began last year.
NAAMA demands that those perpetrating such violence honor the neutrality of physicians, healthcare workers and human rights organizations and stop the killings and reprisals. NAAMA has issued three prior condemnations of such brutality against the Syrian people and continues its appeal for the immediate cessation of violence.
NAAMA Foundation Chair Dr. Hareth Raddawi said, “Because it has been impossible to get medical supplies and services delivered to the affected areas by humanitarian organizations, NAAMA sought and waited for assurances that new ambulances would be allowed to serve the people in need. Our hope is that our contribution to the JHCO will also go a long way to alleviating the pain and suffering of Syrian refugees, who need medical attention.”
Founded in 1975, NAAMA is a non-profit professional, educational and humanitarian organization for Arab American physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other licensed healthcare professionals. NAAMA’s nearly 1,500 members across the United States in 27 chapters represent multiple medical specialties and Arab ethnicities.