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UN urges Afghan parties not to target health facilities

AT-KABUL: The United Nations (UN) urged all parties involved in the Afghan conflicts to stop targeting hospitals and respect health facilities.

In a press statement, it asked the parties to remember their obligation in respecting the provision of healthcare, not to harm medical personnel and patients and to assure that the protection of medical facilities is their responsibility.

“Medical facilities, medical personnel and those who are receiving treatment for disease or conflict-related injuries, must never be placed at risk, let alone subject to attack,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The work that humanitarian and medical personnel carry out must not be restricted, and all parties to the conflict must abstain from actions that may place these persons or facilities at risk.”

On February 22nd, a suicide bomber targeted Afghan security forces close to a health clinic in the Seyahgerd district of Parwan province, killing seven civilians and injuring seven others (including three boys).

On February 18, ministry of interior’s special forces and the international military conducted a joint operation in the Tangi Sayedan area of Daimirdad district of Wardak province. They entered a government-run health clinic funded by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, killing three people including a 15-year old boy.

The UN’s report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts issued earlier this month documented an increase in the number of conflict-related incidents deliberately targeting hospitals, clinics and health personnel.

The UN reiterates that intentional attacks on or in the vicinity of education and health facilities or on their personnel, constitute violations and abuses of international human rights law.

All parties to the conflict are bound to uphold the international humanitarian law principles of distinction and precautions in attacks, and spare the civilian population or persons hors de combat and civilian objects from harm.

The UN urges all parties to refrain from targeting hospitals and to take all feasible precautions to prevent casualties among their patients and personnel.

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