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After Kids Dead from Muscle Relaxer, Syrian Coalition Lays Off Five Officials

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 -- When the Syrian National Coalition's Hadi al Bahra belatedly held an open press conference at the UN on September 24, Inner City Press asked him about the deadly measles vaccination campaign undertaken in territory ostensibly controlled by the opposition.

  In response, Hadi al Bahra just like Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric called it only human error, “not correct labeling, having two types of medicine in the same cabinet.” That would be, muscle relaxer injected into children. Inner City Press asked, What does this portend? This is a test case.

 On October 3, Al Bahra's Syrian Coalition announced that five people have been "dismissed" - but is that full accountability for the killing of children, even if by gross negligence? The Syrian Coalition issued this statement:

"The Syrian Coalition dismissed five officials, including the interim Minister of Health Adnan Hazzori and head of the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) Suhair al-Atassi, after the committee charged with investigating the deaths of children in the measles vaccination campaign submitted the results to the president of the Syrian coalition and to members of the political committee. The investigative committee, headed by Nasr al-Hariri, visited the town of Jarzjanaz in rural Idlib where the deaths of children occurred and met with the health officials to further investigate the incident. The committee reviewed the results of the investigation and decided to dismiss the five officials under the political committee’s decision No. 7 dated September, 25, 26, 27, 2014.

"Moreover, the Syrian Coalition dismissed the director of the Syrian National Vaccination Committee Dr. Mohammad Saad, director of the Medical Department in ACU Dr. Khaled Milaji and ACU’s Executive Director in Samer Darwish. A statement released by the Syrian Coalition holds Idlib Directorate of Health, staff and supervisors of the vaccination campaign responsible for the deaths and referred them to trial. The statement also included directing the blame to the president of the caretaker government Ahmad Tomeh, and its general secretariat for negligence in following up the work of the Ministry of Health.

Blame for the incident was also laid on the Justice Minister in the caretaker government Fayez Daher for his failure to form a special court in Syria to investigate the incident. The Syrian Coalition re-extends its condolences to the families of the victims and reaffirms it will hold to account all those responsible for the death of children. The statement also said that the 'Syrian Coalition fully recognizes the size of the difficulties and the harsh conditions faced by workers in the medical field, most notably the shortage of the qualified medical staff and the lack of medicines and medical supplies as a result of the siege imposed by the Assad regime on the areas beyond its control. It is worth noting that the investigative committee, headed by Nasr al-Hariri, included Jawad Abu Hatab, head of the medical committee, Hisham al-Dairi, former director of the vaccination program in the Syrian Ministry of Health, Abdul Jalil al-Hariri, chairman of the Syrian Bar Association and Muhannad Abdul Qadir, secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s medical committee. The Commission was mandated to submit its final report and recommendations to the Syrian Coalition on September 25th. An investigative hearing session will be held for the head of the caretaker government and the interim Minister of Health on September 25th to discuss the results of the investigation."

   We'll continue to follow this.

Footnote: On September 24 the first two questions to Hadi al Bahra were from US state owned media, and France 24. Then later came RFI. This is part of why the Free UN Coalition for Access complained about Hadi al Bahra initially, and Ahmad Jarba throughout his tenure, only taking questions in these media's clubhouse of UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance. They only publicize the events to those who paid them money; the UNCA Executive Committee tried to get the investigative Press thrown out fo the UN. It is good that Hadi al Bahra, hosted by the UK, held an open briefing. But what about the answers? We'll have more on these.


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