By Farhard Naibkhel-KABUL: Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières MSF) sought independent investigation in the US airstrikes on its hospital in Kunduz on October 3, which claimed lives of 22 people, including 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients.
General Director MSF, Christopher Stokes, said that they could not rely on an eternally military investigation by the US, NATO and Afghan forces.
Speaking at a press conference here he said that MSF is demanding an independent investigation by the international humanitarian fact finding commission to establish the facts of this event.
“The attack on MSF hospital was violation of the international humanitarian law and we consider that this was not just an attack on our hospital it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. The hospital was operating with the agreement of all parties involved to the conflicts. We have repeatedly provided the GPS coordinates of the hospital,” he said.
Regarding presence of wounded insurgents in the hospital he did not directly reject but said that as soon as someone enters in the hospital there is no more affiliation. “So, when someone enters [into the hospital] he enters as a patient and that is a very strict rule that we have been following in Kunduz in the past four years as well as in other our hospitals. So we don’t want know who is inside because that is basic protection, whoever is inside is a patient,” he explained.
He said that under rule of Geneva anyone who enters the hospital and is wounded, they are considered non-combatant. “We will ask the Afghan government to accept the principle independent investigation and additional we also seek a reaffirmation from the Afghan government that the MSF remains able to operate by our principle of our complete independence medical and partiality,” he asserted.
He said that the condition in which they operate in Afghanistan require the commitment of the all parties of the conflict to respect some basic agreements including the international humanitarian law and the conventions. “What we are going to seek in the coming days with the Afghan authorities to have their reaffirm to these principles first to be able to continue work in Afghanistan.”
During the incident three international doctors were in the hospital, but none of them suffered.
“After the incident nine out of 105 patients and 24 out of 461 staffs are missing. It is our policy to not unveil their identity till complete investigation and information,” he said.
Guilhem Molinie, Country Representative of MSF in Afghanistan, said that from 2:8 am until 3:15 am on Saturday (3rd October) MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by bombs at approximately 15 minutes intervals. The main hospital building which housed the intensive care unit, emergency rooms and physiotherapy ward was hit with precision.
During each raid thee surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched, he said.
He said that the total number of people killed in the attack is 22. As many as 37 people were injured including 19 members of the MSF team.
From September 28, when major fighting broke out in Kunduz city, until the time of the attack, MSF teams in Kunduz had treated 394 wounded people in the hospital.
When the aerial attack occurred there were 105 patients in the hospital and more than 80 international and national MSF staffs.
“Our staff reported that there were no combatants or active fighting in or from the compound prior to the strike,” he mentioned.
The attack continued for more than 30 minutes after the MSF first informed the US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington that the MSF hospital was under attack.
He said that since the fighting broke out in Kunduz city they have treated patients from Afghan military as well as the armed opposition. These patients laid side by side in the hospital. They were given the best possible care.
“We maintain total commitments to the principal of partiality once combatants are injured and they require medical attention. They lose their combatant status according to the international law. They are simple patients,” he said.
MSF hospital in Kunduz is not currently operating.