War photographer returns to Syria with People's Convoy

Lorry containing medical equipment which is heading to Syria Image copyright PA
Image caption London doctors have joined the convoy to build a children's hospital near Aleppo

A war photographer who survived a deadly blast in Syria has joined a convoy taking London doctors to the embattled country.

It is the first time Paul Conroy has returned to Syria since he was injured in an attack that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in 2012.

The People's Convoy has raised more than £155,000 to build a new children's hospital near Aleppo.

It is to replace one which was bombed in November.

Mr Conroy said the journey back was his first opportunity to show solidarity and remind the Syrian people they were not forgotten.

Image copyright Independent Doctors Association
Image caption The Independent Doctors Association posted this photo showing the aftermath of an air strike on a children's hospital it supports

"A few years ago I was in Homs lying in the rubble next to my dead partner Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik.

"We were taken to a hospital field clinic and the treatment I had - I had a toothbrush, a bottle of iodine and an office stapler to put my leg back together.

"That hasn't changed. Doctors and medics are some of the most hunted people in Syria."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The photographer had always vowed to return to the war-torn country

'Best of humanity'

The convoy has been organised by CanDo, The Syria Campaign, Doctors Under Fire and The Phoenix Foundation. It will take about a week to reach the Syrian border.

The trucks will then be handed over to the Independent Doctors' Association, which then plans to travel on to the outskirts of Aleppo and begin building the hospital.

Dr Rola Hallam, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, said seeing images of the deliberate targeting of the medical facility was a "devastating blow" to her and what prompted the campaign idea.

Image copyright PA

The 37-year-old British Syrian added: "These are war crimes which have been allowed to continue with impunity and I felt it was time that we, the people, took action."

She said the amount raised had been like a "ray of light and hope".

"This is a display of the best of humanity - 3,000 people from around the world have clubbed together to not only raise the money needed to set up the hospital, but well over the target."

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