Doctors bid to crowdfund a children's hospital for Aleppo

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Doctors have launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a desperately needed children's hospital in war-torn Syria.

Set up by CanDo, The Syria Campaign, Doctors Under Fire and The Phoenix Foundation - those behind the project say it is a way for British citizens to help Syrians directly.

Called the People's Convoy, they are aiming to raise £91,432 ahead of December 17 when a number of trucks - packed with all the required medical supplies for a new hospital - will leave London.

(Screengrab/People's Convoy)
(Screengrab/People's Convoy)

Organisers say it was the bombing of the last children's hospital in besieged east Aleppo last month, forcing it to close, which has prompted their "emergency response".

Rola Hallam, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Free Hospital in London and founder of the CanDo campaign, said this is a "real opportunity for all of us to make a big difference".

The 37-year-old said: "We have all felt paralysed and powerless. This is a chance for all of us to take a stand, to make a mark, to make a difference with this bold, direct action.

"We will literally be saving lives, we will be sending such a strong message of solidarity and support to Syrian civilians, their medics and humanitarians.

"If our governments won't act, we the people will. We may not be able to stop bombs but we can save lives."

In 2012 rebel fighters took control of eastern Aleppo. Alongside Russian airstrikes, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have since been waging a major offensive to take it back.

But the bombardment has come at the expense of the civilians, with images of destroyed buildings and distraught children - dusty, bleeding and injured after being pulled from the rubble - frequent.

Organisers say 100% of any donations made will go straight into funding the hospital, and that the supplies sent in the trucks will be used to refit an existing building into the new medical facility.

(Alexander Kots/AP)
(Alexander Kots/AP)

The convoy is set to travel through Europe and into Turkey, where, at the border the trucks will be handed over to the Syrian partners of the project - the Independent Doctors Association.

This latest hospital will be the sixth Hallam has helped to set up in the country where she was raised.

It will be based in the western countryside of Aleppo and will cater for just under 100,000 children living in the surrounding area.

She added: "It was an area until recently which was under ISIS control, they have had no healthcare for the last two years - so it has become really critical."

Hallam said she cannot mention the specific village or town where the hospital will be located because of the risk of it becoming a bombing target.

(Hassan Ammar/AP)
(Hassan Ammar/AP)

Calling for medical neutrality to be "reclaimed", Hallam said the deliberate targeting of hospitals and medics has become "such a norm", but one that is not acceptable.

"We should not be living in a world where hospitals can be bombed, and not just randomly but as a weapon of war in a premeditated and targeted way," she said.

Supporting partners of the project include the Syrian American Medical Society, Medecins Du Monde, Hand in Hand for Syria and Physicians for Human Rights.

To make a donation or for more information visit PeoplesConvoy.com