- Title: MSF marks one year since deadly Kunduz attack
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE ATTENDING THE EVENT, HOLDING CANDLES
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 22:52
- Keywords: Kunduz Afghanistan Taliban MSF hospital
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00252GDHZB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Geneva's main hospital became on Monday night (October 3) a fiery inferno in a simulation to commemorate the deadly U.S. airstrike on Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan exactly a year ago, and to raise public awareness as attacks on health facilities and health workers have been on the rise since then, and as Aleppo is "bleeding".
The event was organised by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which ran the Kunduz trauma centre where 42 people, including 14 staff, were killed in a U.S. strike that the Pentagon later blamed on human error and equipment failure.
Geneva hospital - where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was treated for a broken femur in May 2015 - was lit up in the night sky as mock images of war planes bombed it. Patients, nurses and doctors scrambled behind the seemingly shattered windows as the medical wards appeared to burst into flames.
"On this day of one-year anniversary post-Kunduz, we wanted to put under the spotlight attacks of the hospitals that are going on now in different conflicts, like in Yemen, and in Afghanistan, but as well in Aleppo today, which is, as we say, under attack and bleeding. So I think it is important that people know what it means, a site like a hospital, that we all believe should be protected, what does it mean when it is under attack," MSF International President Joanne Liu said, as the hospital facade was still on fire behind thanks to the image projectors.
Since October 3, 2015, MSF have registered around 80 attacks on health care facilities it supports, mainly in Syria and Yemen.
In the rebel-held sector of the Syrian city of Aleppo only, four hospitals have been destroyed in as many days, leaving just five intensive care beds for 250,000 people, according to the medical charity group.
For the president of MSF Switzerland Thomas Nierle, targeting health facilities, and health workers, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law, is now part of a military strategy, and these attacks are deliberate, and the persons responsible for them are not being held accountable.
Regarding the Kunduz attack, he says that the destruction of the hospital can't be blamed only on a chain of coincidences and errors, as the U.S. claim. He still calls for an independent investigation, and denounces the general impunity the perpetrators of such attacks benefit from.
"Four out of five members of the Security Council, permanent members of the Security Council, are allied to forces that commit these crimes, and on the other hand, on the U.N. Security Council, there is, one resolution after the other is passed that health care structures should not be attacked, that they are protected, that it should be respected, but in the end, nothing changes," he said, saying that the U.S. were backing a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, responsible according to the United Nations of attacks on hospitals in Yemen, while the Syrian government was backed and vigourously supported by Russia.
"We don't know where humanity will lead if we let these things happen," he added.
Attending the commemoration, Elisabeth Meillard said that these kind of events could bring a better knowledge or feeling of what it is like for random people like her to be caught in such attacks.
"We hear every day so much of this kind of news, I think that, unfortunately there is some kind of desensitization, that people get used to this kind of news. But if there can be more of these actions so people can indeed realise what it really means, and that it can't be tolerated, and that it needs to be opposed, it would be great", she said. Insisting that for now, she was above all feeling helpless.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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