In light of the devastating airstrikes on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, CCOUC would like to express our sincere condolences to those affected by this incident, and to condemn the use of force employed against a critical medical facility in the region.
The airstrike, which targeted buildings within the hospital compound, killed at least 22 MSF staff members and patients, and injured 37. The MSF hospital in Kunduz was the only trauma centre of its kind in a region affected by conflict, and had been a place where civilians could obtain free medical care. CCOUC offers our heartfelt condolences and sympathies, both to affected civilians and to our fellow medical colleagues who have been hit by this tragedy.
CCOUC condemns the use of force on medical facilities in conflict regions in all circumstances. We welcome the UN’s call for a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident. However, we also emphasise the urgent need for this investigation to be carried out immediately, and by an independent body. This is critical not only for accountability, but to ensure the necessary protection and respect of all humanitarian workers and health facilities operating globally.
As an organisation, we advocate that all actors in conflict must adhere to the basic principles outlined in the Geneva Conventions: to respect and protect the work of medical facilities at all times, and to refrain from attacking them. This is ever-more critical as new and more complex forms of humanitarian crises continue to emerge across the world, requiring a corresponding response. CCOUC works closely with a range of actors involved in humanitarian action on the ground (such as academic staff, NGO experts, fellows and local communities), in addition to actively training a new cadre of frontline workers in the field of medical humanitarian response. As we do this, our sincere hope is that all parties in conflict will act according to the core principles enshrined in international humanitarian law, affording a basic level of protection and respecting the impartiality of medical and humanitarian actors working in conflict situations.