by Steven Sahiounie
On April 29 of this year, the Guardian published a ‘feel good’ story about a Syrian refugee chef in London, who is cooking to support Hope Hospital in Aleppo. The claims in the article bear scrutiny. For example, there’s the claim that “….Hope Hospital […] has saved tens of thousands of lives in Aleppo.” Another claim is that “It is the only pediatric hospital in the Aleppo region, serving more than 250,000 people.”
From these details, the readers will come away with the impression that Hope Hospital is a worthwhile charity, which is located in Aleppo, Syria and which is the only children’s hospital in the area. However, those claims are not supported by facts.
Hope Hospital is not located in the city of Aleppo. The mainstream media covered the battles of East Aleppo for months in 2016, culminating in the December 2016 evacuation of all armed fighters and their families from East Aleppo, and the evacuation of most besieged civilians to West Aleppo, as a result of the Syrian Arab Army’s taking control of East Aleppo after it had been occupied by armed fighters for years.
Aleppo is the most populous city in Syria: during the Syrian conflict, one section was overrun by armed fighters, who occupied the area and subjugated the citizens under Radical Islam. These various armed groups were Jaysh Islam, Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, Jibhat ansar al-din, Army of Mujahadeen, Sham Legion and Levant Front.
These armed militias were sponsored by USA, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. All of these groups had the same goal: to defeat the Syrian government and establish an Islamic State in Syria. These groups were numerous and bore different names; however, they were all basically the same type of armed fighters which would be commonly termed terrorists.
These groups did not only target Syrian government personnel, but often their target was the unarmed civilian population in Western Aleppo: their neighbors.
The Syrian government made a decision to fight the armed groups in order to liberate the civilians and to restore peace and order to the city. It was a very long and difficult military campaign, which cost the lives of hundreds of unarmed Syrian civilians and armed military personnel, as well as armed fighters. The battle culminated in December 2016, and since then peace and order of the city have been restored; however, it will take years to rebuild all the homes and buildings which were destroyed in the process of liberating the area.
The vast majority of those who had been held captive in East Aleppo by the armed groups poured out in streams of humanity during the last days of December 2016. Only a very small number of the total involved chose of their own free-will to leave Aleppo and take the offered option of going to areas under the occupation of armed groups, as opposed to remaining in the areas administered by the Syrian government. In the terms of a brokered deal, the armed fighters and their families, and others who adhered to their ideology, left in a convoy of 10 buses to their chosen destination of Idlib. Idlib is the largest area in Syria under armed opposition control. It sits on the Turkish border and receives aid and protection from Turkey as well as from a host of international charities.
Hope Hospital is located in the Syrian city of Jarabulus, which is now under the military occupation of Turkey. If you pull out a map of Aleppo and the region, you will see that Jarablous is 60 miles from Aleppo. Hope Hospital does not serve any patients in Aleppo. The article appeals for the charity of Guardian’s readers, who associate that location, i.e. Aleppo, with suffering civilians who deserve help, especially medical assistance.
In reality, when you dig through the news articles, and look at the map, you see that Jarabulus is the location of Hope Hospital, and Aleppo is a misleading name used to grab the attention and purse strings of the uninformed Western reader. Jarabulus belongs to the Aleppo province. In the 2004 census, the city had a population of 11,570. However, the Guardian’s aricle claims Hope Hospital will serve 170,000 patients. The location and numbers concerning Hope Hospital do not correspond.
Why are the charities and news articles misleading the public that Hope Hospital is in Aleppo, when it is located in Jarabulus? Why are they inflating the numbers, and using misinformation and subterfuge in appealing to the public for charitable contributions?
Jarabulus is the destination of the terrorists and their families who were in the evacuation deal in many areas in Syria. For example, the Jaysh al-Islam group with their wives, families and supporters left Douma and went to Jarabulus. They could have chosen Idlib; however, the armed groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands who already live in
Idlib hate Jaysh al- Islam and have been vocal about it, so the latter had to opt for Jarabulus or face death at the hands of their ‘brothers-in-
The western charity market in Europe and North America would not be so inclined to send their hard-earned donations to a hospital which caters to the armed fighters, their wives and children, and supporters. Some might not mind: thinking that to save the life of a wife or child of a terrorist is worth a donation. A life is a life, in humanitarian terms. However, there is another school of thought, which says that by helping armed fighters you are playing the global role of their ‘enabler’. You are sending these groups a clear message: that no matter how brutal and savage you may be, in the end we will come to your rescue, and save your wives and children; you can count on us. There is also the accusation of child abuse: aren’t armed fighters and their wives responsible for the health and safety of their children? Some people would call it child abuse to subject children to a life of violence and destruction, especially as such a life was not thrust upon the parents but their reflects their own choice driven by a political ideology.
In reality, the city of Aleppo is now populated by about 1,602,264. Prior to the conflict, Aleppo had 112 hospital, of which 14 were state hospitals providing health care free of charge. Some the hospitals were destroyed during the conflict. Aleppo still had more than 20 hospitals which were operating during the conflict, even though the Western media and charities were telling unwitting donors that the ‘last Doctor in Aleppo’ was gone, and the ‘last Hospital in Aleppo was destroyed’. Aleppo University Hospital was never closed during the conflict. The children living in Aleppo, the city and countryside, are being well served between a network of state hospitals and state clinics, which are smaller and scattered in rural areas, and still offer free health care, especially for all the existing children’s vaccinations and routine pediatric visits.
Hope Hospital was equipped and supplied in part by “The People’s Convoy”, set up in December 2016 to transport hospital equipment and supplies from Chelsea & Westminster Hospital to Turkey; a journey covering over 2,600 miles by land, through Europe. These supplies were not sent to Syria legally, or efficiently. This was an illegal international smuggling operation, crossing borders without any passport controls or any visas. The legal route would be to load the equipment on a ship in England and off-load it in the Port of Latakia legally, as a humanitarian shipment, and then truck the shipping container to Jarabulus.
Turkey is one of the main supporters of the armed fighters in Syria. They have acted as the hosting country for international terrorists, flying them in to Turkish airports and passing through Turkey unhindered. In fact, Turkish merchants have made money off the terrorists on their way to Syria. The Turkish government officially transported weapons and supplies for use by the terrorists in Syria. The Obama administration used the Port of Iskanderun, Turkey to offload weapons and supplies stolen from the Libyan government to be given to the terrorists in Syria.
The funding behind “The People’s Convoy” was the charity “CanDo”, which was founded by Dr. Rola Hallam, who now serves as its CEO.
Robert Stuart, formerly a newspaper reporter, has been forensically investigating the apparent fabrication of the BBC Panorama documentary “Saving Syria’s Children”. A recurring character throughout “Saving Syria’s Children” is Dr. Rola Hallam, a British doctor representing the charity Hand in Hand for Syria. She immediately jumped out to Robert due to the manner of her introduction — taking time out during the apparent mass casualty scenario to conduct a calm and coherent to-camera interview.”
Stuart presents evidence this footage was staged. Experts have examined the footage and declared the portrayed burns victims are actors and not victims. Dr Hallam’s claims were edited and her words changed between different versions of the video.
The Guradian’s and BBC’s ‘feel good’ stories don’t feel so good after all. They feel like they was designed to ‘pimp’ for the support of Hope Hospital. The people of Syria have suffered 7 years of an international proxy-war against them. There will continue to be the need for charitable and humanitarian donations. However, there are some charities which have remained connected exclusively to areas occupied by the defeated armed fighters, and in refugee camps which are not on Syrian soil. Those charities have taken sides in the war and will only help those who are committed to the Radical Islamic ideology of the various armed groups. The charities are free to choose to support their cause; however, uninformed Western donors may not share that ideology.