Brice De Le Vingne is Médecins Sans Frontières' Director of Operations
In Syria's besieged areas medical evacuations of critically ill patients are essential, and we hope some lives have been saved by the recent 'Four Towns Agreement' evacuation operation. However, Médecins Sans Frontières stresses that the idea of organising medical evacuations as part of a synchronised political negotiation is deeply problematic. Medical evacuations should be conducted based solely on the medical need of the patient, and to subvert that medical humanitarian imperative to political tit-for-tat exchanges flies in the face of medical and humanitarian ethics.
We urge all besieging forces to allow medical evacuations as and when required, based on the level of medical need, and not to deny or delay evacuations as part of an exchange process.
We do not have full lists of which people have been included in the lists of evacuations. We know in Zabadani and Madaya, where Médecins Sans Frontières supports the makeshift medical facilities, that there are significant numbers of patients in need of urgent or even immediately critical life-saving medical evacuation, and we will be seeking to find out if all the most critically ill patients were allowed to be evacuated for treatment.