ICRC wants end to attacks on health workers ahead of int’l confab
‘’One of the first victims of of war is the health-care system itself, said Marco Baldan, the chief war surgeon of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
A 32-month study conducted by the ICRC in 16 countries around the world shows that the killings of hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health workers in armed conflicts around the world have reached alarming proportions and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is calling for urgent action to stop it.
It is to highlight the scale of this rising danger and find urgent solution to the problem that the ICRC is on Monday beginning a big international conference of all stakeholders in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, Paul-Henri Arni, Head of Project of health care in danger told West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR).
And in its study, the group found out that both government regular forces and rebels/other non-state actors in areas of armed conflicts are equally responsible.
‘’From this study we did, it showed that about half of the incidents are under the responsibility of government forces and the other half are under the responsibility of insurgents,’’ Paul-Henri said.
The ICC official said combatants in armed conflicts have ’’crossed the red line’’ by their increasing attacks on ambulance and health workers, thus prompting the holding of the Dakar conference, as the attacks and looting persist in long drawn-out conflict such as the one in DR Congo.
He said the killing of one doctor deprives thousands of people from being treated in the various conflict zones around the world.
There are countless testimonies from Red Cross volunteers who have and continue to endure targeted attacks.
‘’They entered the parking lot, ordered us at gunpoint to lie on the ground, then shot dead the patient on the stretcher and left again as if nothing had happend,’’ a Red Cross volunteer described the execution of a patient on the relief group’s premises.
Another testimony is given of a doctor who cried for four of his colleagues—a doctor, an ambulance driver and two nurses—who were killed in an air strike on the road between Ajdabyah and Brega in Libya.
With a mission as an impartial, neutral humanitarian group dedicated to protect t of the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violencs and provide them with assistance, the ICRC said existing international humanitarian law must be respected.
And at the same time, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is pressing for the introduction of core values in school curriculum as well as the adoption and implementation of laws to stop the attacks.
The ICRC has said the use of young people to man check points in West Africa and other parts must stop.
According to Paul-Henri of the ICRC, some 70% of attacks are on local medica staff—doctors and nurses, with 60% of those injured being in serious condition.
And in its study, the group has found out that both government regular forces and rebels or other non-state actors in armed conflicts are equally responsible.
Howerver , ahead of Monday’s international conference highlighting the plight of endangered health workerson, the ICRC has also warned against misused of health-care facilities.
‘’Health care facilities retain their protective status as long as they are exclusively devoted to the care of the wounded and the sick and are not used to advance military goals,’’ the ICRC said.
Ahead of Monday’s’’Health Care in Danger’’ conference, WADR’s Frank Sainworla holds an exclusive interview with Paul-Henri Arni, Head of Project of health at the ICRC.
Click audio below to listen