The aftermath of Kunduz hospital bombing (posted by Jason Cone Executive Director, Doctors w/o Borders MSF, USA)
Medecins Sans Frontier has released its “initial internal review” on the horrific bombing of their hospital in Kunduz City, north east Afghanistan on October 3rd 2015 where staff and patients were shot at, decapitated and burnt alive by US forces. MSF have called for an independent and transparent investigation into the attack which appeared to violate internationally accepted rules of war and could constitute “a war crime”. The hospital was targeted following allegations that Taliban that had recently taken over Kunduz were firing from the within the grounds. This was strongly denied by MSF and in a statement from Islamic Emirate. MSF stated,
“on 7 October 2015, MSF launched a call for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission. Although the IHFFC has made itself available for an investigation, the United States and Afghan Governments have yet to consent to this request. Consenting to the IHFFC is a critical step in demonstrating a commitment to the Geneva Conventions. Today, we are handing over this internal report to both the public and the IHFFC. The attack on our hospital in Kunduz destroyed our ability to treat patients at a time when we were needed the most. We need a clear commitment that the act of providing medical care will never make us a target. We need to know whether the rules of war still apply.”
The main conclusions of the report are as follows:-
MSF can conclude the following points, based on the facts reviewed in this initial overview of events before, during and immediately after the US airstrikes on 3 October 2015:
• The agreement to respect the neutrality of our medical facility based on the applicable sections of International Humanitarian Law was fully in place and agreed with all parties to the conflict prior to the attack.
• The KTC was fully functioning as a hospital with 105 patients admitted and surgeries ongoing at the time of the airstrikes
• The MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the ‘no weapon’ policy and MSF was in full control of the hospital at the time of the airstrikes
• There were no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity of the KTC at the time of the airstrikes
• The GPS coordinates provided to all armed groups were accurate and MSF teams in Kabul and New York made the relevant contacts to alert the parties to the conflict of the airstrikes.
Based on these conclusions, there is an urgent need for a widely agreed upon and unambiguous recognition of the practical rules under which hospitals operate in conflict zones. This means:
• A functioning hospital caring for patients, such as the one in Kunduz, cannot simply lose its protection and be attacked
• Wounded combatants must be treated without discrimination and cannot be attacked
• Medical staff cannot be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants.
See following link for full report
“Attack on Kunduz Trauma Centre | AFGHANISTAN
Initial MSF internal review”
This is not the first massacre at Kunduz. Back in 2009, World Socialist web reported, “an air strike ordered by the German army at the end of last week has resulted in one of the worst massacres in the history of the eight-year-old NATO war in Afghanistan”. A statement by the Socialist Equality Party read,
“it is now clear that in the course of Thursday night at least 125 persons were killed in the attack, which had been ordered by the military commander of the German “Provincial Reconstruction Team” (PRT) in Kunduz, Colonel Georg Klein. In addition to armed fighters, the attack wiped out many inhabitants of neighbouring villages. The incident was one of the bloodiest air strikes since US forces invaded the country in the autumn of 2001.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempted to defend the German attack on 2 oil tankers which had become stuck in sand in a river claiming only “armed Taliban” had being killed in the air strike and no civilians had been harmed. However photographs emerged allegedly showing a number of child victims. The Socialist Equality Party went on to report,
“according to the Washington Post report and numerous eye-witnesses, inhabitants from nearby villages, including many children, had rushed to the scene in the middle of the night to collect some of the gasoline carried in the tankers. The gasoline, which was due to have been delivered to German occupying troops, is a luxury item for the vast majority of Afghanis.”
See link here for full story,
“Massacre in Kunduz bares real nature of Afghanistan war”
With regard to the latest hospital attack, international human rights campaigners call on the US government and military to release cockpit footage of the aerial attack to help MSF staff and their patients gain answers to why they came under a fierce and sustained attack despite giving GPS coordinates for the hospital on several occasions. It is also in the public interest to allow any recordings, audio and visual to be placed in the public domain.
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.