Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Red Cross: Rise in violence against medics in warzones

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned of an alarming rise in attacks on medical facilities and personnel in conflict zones.

The ICRC report, Healthcare in Danger, lists 600 attacks worldwide on doctors, nurses, ambulances and hospitals from mid-2008 to the end of 2010.

It covers 16 nations, including Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia and Colombia.

The report notes that while some attacks are accidental, many deliberately target healthcare workers.

The right of those wounded in war to receive medical treatment - and the right of medical workers to move freely - are enshrined in the first Geneva Convention.

But, almost 150 years after the convention was adopted, it is being violated on a regular basis, says the ICRC's director-general Yves Daccord.

"Clearly there is a trend in terms of no respect of healthcare… and more importantly for us, nobody seems to care about it," he told the BBC.

"A few years ago, when an ambulance was shelled, or a hospital was taken by armed people, or doctors were arrested, there was an outcry. But now nobody - people, governments, armed groups - seems to be interested anymore." (more)