There’s a New Guideline for Helping Chemical-Weapons Victims in Syria”“and It’s Brutal

A Syrian man mourns after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces in Douma town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman
Aug. 27, 2013, 12:29 p.m.

The World Health Or­gan­iz­a­tion re­leased new in­ter­im guid­ance Tues­day for the treat­ment of vic­tims of chem­ic­al weapons. The doc­u­ment, which is avail­able in both Eng­lish and Ar­ab­ic, is based on field train­ing that’s been car­ried out since last year.

In light of what’s happened in Syr­ia in the past week, the doc­u­ment is pre­dict­ably gut-wrench­ing. Glenn Thomas, a spokes­man for the WHO in Geneva, said that the re­lease of the doc­u­ment this week isn’t just some co­in­cid­ence — it was rushed out to sup­port United Na­tions and WHO staff in Syr­ia. 

The or­gan­iz­a­tion’s flow­chart on identi­fy­ing the class of chem­ic­al ex­pos­ure gives you enough of a sense of how dire the situ­ation must be for med­ic­al re­spon­ders in Syr­ia:

It’s not totally clear yet what type of chem­ic­al weapons have been used in Syr­ia. But ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the most likely cul­prit in last week’s at­tack is some sort of nerve agent. Ac­cord­ing to the new WHO re­port, here are the signs and symp­toms of these weapons:

It may not be long be­fore the U.S. steps in. Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden said Tues­day that there is “no doubt” that the As­sad re­gime in Syr­ia has used chem­ic­al weapons, and that “no one doubts that in­no­cent men, wo­men, and chil­dren have been the vic­tims.” NBC re­ports that U.S. strikes on Syr­ia in­tend­ing to send a mes­sage could come as soon as Thursday, and last for three days.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4402) }}


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.