October 9 2015 - Christian Aid today joined calls for a commission set up under the Geneva Conventions to investigate the US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan which killed 12 medical staff and 10 patients. A further 24 staff and nine patients remain unaccounted for.
The airstrike six days ago in Kunduz in the northern part of the country forced MSF to evacuate the area, leaving thousands of civilians in a war zone with no access to health care. The attack was in breach of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the targeting of hospitals.
Christian Aid supports MSF’s call for the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to launch an investigation. Although set up 25 years ago under the Geneva Conventions to investigate violations of international humanitarian law, it has never before been activated.
Nick Guttmann, Christian Aid’s Humanitarian Head, said today: “The Commission has been ineffectual up until now because of a lack of political will on the part of signatory states.
“Meanwhile health facilities are routinely attacked in conflicts world-wide such as those in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of medical staff and patients alike. Frequently the intensity of a conflict, or perversely, the fact that only local staff are involved, means such attacks fail to make headlines.
“That wasn’t the case here and we urge the UK and the EU to press for the commission to launch a rigorous enquiry to demonstrate that it’s ready, willing and able to uphold international humanitarian law, and help bring those responsible to account.
“Every signatory state to the Geneva Conventions is bound to “respect” and “ensure respect” to that law to protect civilians, yet non-combatants make up 80-90 per cent of the victims of modern armed conflicts.
“This shows an impunity surrounding violations of the law which greatly diminishes faith in the Geneva Conventions and respect for basic humanitarian principles. It also obstructs the provision of aid to populations in need, and must be countered.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
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5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk