Afghanistan

UN calls on all parties to respect health facilities

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KABUL - The United Nations reminds all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan of their obligation to always respect the provision of healthcare, never to harm medical personnel and patients and to ensure that the protected status of medical facilities is respected.

In two incidents in the last week, access to healthcare was under attack, resulting in deaths and injuries.

“Medical facilities, medical personnel, and those who are receiving treatment, for disease or conflict-related injuries, must never be placed at risk, let alone subject to attack,” said Mark Bowden, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator and the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The work that humanitarian and medical personnel carry out must not be restricted, and all parties to the conflict must abstain from actions that may place these persons or facilities at risk.”

On 22 February, in the Sia Gird District of Parwan Province, a suicide attacker targeting Afghan security forces detonated an improvised explosive device in proximity to the entrance of the district health clinic, killing seven civilians and injuring seven others (including three boys).

On 18 February, Afghan Ministry of Interior Special Forces and the international military conducted a joint operation in the Tangi Sayedan area of Daimirdad District of Wardak province and entered a government health clinic funded by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. After the manager of the facility was tied up and other medical personnel forced with him into a room, two patients and a 15-year-old boy on visit were taken to a nearby shop and summarily executed.

The 2015 UNAMA-OHCHR Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict issued earlier this month documented an increase in the number of conflict-related incidents deliberately targeting hospitals, clinics and health personnel.

The UN reiterates that intentional attacks on or in the vicinity of education facilities and hospitals, or on their personnel, committed as part of the ongoing conflict, constitute violations and abuses of international human rights law, breaches of international humanitarian law, and also violate the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

All parties to the conflict are bound to uphold the international humanitarian law principles of distinction and precautions in attack, and spare the civilian population or persons hors de combat and civilian objects from harm.

The UN urges all parties to refrain from targeting hospitals and to take all feasible precautions to prevent casualties among their patients and personnel.