Why Conjoined Syrian Twins Nawras and Mou'az Were Condemned to Death
By Franklin Lamb, a volunteer with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com . He is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pauper's Cemetery, Najha, Syria, September 13, 2016.
One-month old conjoined twins Narwas and Mou'az Al-Hashash died needlessly this month in a Damascus hospital because they were the innocent victims of what International Humanitarian Law defines as War Crimes.
The boys are buried in an unmarked pauper's grave near the town of Najha, approximately 30 miles south of Damascus as their story...one among countless hundreds of other needless deaths here...begins to fade as more senseless tragedies are reported.
Illegal siege warfare entrapped the twins as it did the entire civilian population of Hammouria in the rebel stronghold of East Ghouta, near Damascus. This area was hit with chemical weapons in August 2013 and a specialist from the Mayo Clinic's Campus in Minnesota, USA has speculated that "environmental conditions" could be one reason the boys were joined in the womb and that perhaps the mother of Narwas and Mou'az had been affected by inhaling particles from the chemical weapons three years ago.
To whatever degree one might be inclined to credit the Mayo medical specialist's interesting thesis, it is irrelevant to the boy's needless death because chemical weapons were not the immediate cause of the boy's death. Other war crimes and regional proxy politics were.
to the conjoined twins Nawras and Mou'az Al-Hashash, the Syrian Arab Red
Crescent (SARC) issued a post-death press release: "The official authorities approved the
evacuation of the babies to be done the next day (7/24/2016), but the medical
staff who were supervising the case inside Ghouta at Zahra Hospital refused to
allow them out." Zahra Hospital disputed this version of the events and denied
they delayed the conjoined twins travel for emergency medical assistance.
Dr. Mohamad Katoub,
advocacy manager for the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) told the Wall Street Journal that Syria's Foreign
Ministry was responsible for the ultimately fatal delays. The ministry was
"looking for a medical solution that matched its political interests and
trying to secure medical treatment for the twins in a country with friendlier
relations with Syria," he said.
Whichever version of events one credits, the fact is that for 17 days Nawras and Mou'az were denied escape from besieged East Ghouta for lifesaving medical help although all the relevant political decision makers, as well as the UN Security Council were fully aware that surgery abroad was absolutely necessary to save the boys. More than one concerned medical group, including the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) made myriad arrangements to save the boys with surgery abroad. SARCS made an agreement with the Italian Association Terre des Hommes , which has an office in Damascus, for the babies to be admitted to Rome's "Bambino Gesu" Hospital to perform the surgery. London's Great Osmond hospital was also prepared to do the surgery, as well other medical centers contacted by SAMS, MSRCL, and others.
On 8/12/2016 when the boys were finally allowed to leave East Ghouta's Zahra Hospital and come to Sinan Hospital in Damascus, for the next nearly two weeks they were not allowed to be moved abroad. As a foreseeable result of this denial to receive emergency medical help abroad, conjoined twins Narwas and Mou'az died needlessly on August 24th. The World Health Organization told this observer that it took days of negotiations to evacuate them to Damascus from East Ghouta and that the boys ran out of time as the political negotiations lagged. During the morning of 8/24/2016, Dr. Katoub issued a statement advising that "Nawras and Moaz passed away this early morning. The whole world couldn't have the permission to evacuate them."
Next to the boys' small concrete slab, the Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) left the boys, their grieving family and the Syrian public a sketch of the precious ones drawn by Syrian artist Akram Abo Alfoz . A copy of which this observer obtained from Dr. Mohammad Katoub, a Syrian humanitarian, who along with his colleagues at the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) had for weeks pleaded the twins' petition to save their lives. They had arranged for the twins' life-saving surgery abroad but unfortunately these and others pleas were in vain.
There remain conflicting reports about why it took almost three weeks for the boys to be evacuated. Dr. Bakr Abu Ebrahem, who delivered the twins, told The Wall Street Journal :"If these were two boys born in Damascus, they could have been taken out within 48 hours to another country. But only because they were born in the Ghouta, they have delayed."