The international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are leading a call to all actors in conflict zones to respect the right to safety of healthcare workers.
In the last few months, a number of attacks against workers, medical transports and facilities have taken place in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Yemen to mention a few.
A number medical organisations and individuals are supporting Healthcare in Danger, an initiative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement calling for the protection of healthcare workers, their facilities and their vehicles.
The Healthcare in Danger calls for safe access to, and delivery of, medical aid in armed conflict or other emergencies.
Incidents are taking place in countries with fragile healthcare systems struggling to treat people affected by conflict. In some cases, the situation is made worse by restrictions on aid workers, preventing them from getting to people in need.
These attacks on medical personnel and facilities protected under international humanitarian law, leave death and destruction in their wake and disrupt a vital service.
These are not isolated incidents. The International Committee of the Red Cross, through the Health Care in Danger project, has been gathering data in eleven countries since January 2012. By December 2014, 2,398 attacks against healthcare personnel, facilities and vehicles had been recorded. This alarming situation highlights the urgent need for measures to prevent future violence.
The Health Care in Danger initiative, with the support of experts and professionals from different backgrounds, including from governments, armed forces, humanitarian agencies, international professional associations and healthcare services is a substantive body of recommendations that, if implemented, would increase protection for healthcare services.
As members and partners of the Health Care in Danger initiative, we call on States, weapon bearers, international and national humanitarian agencies and health organisations to give urgent attention to the recommendations.
In particular, we urge States:
- to investigate and condemn attacks against healthcare personnel, facilities and medical transports that violate international law, including international humanitarian law
- to revise their domestic legislation and its implementation to ensure it is in line with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law
- to ensure the military are properly trained to understand and abide by the legal framework for the protection of healthcare as well as the ethical duties of healthcare personnel
- to cooperate with health and humanitarian organisations to ensure that healthcare personnel are specially trained to know, apply and uphold their legal and ethical duties
- to actively seek to raise awareness of the proper use of the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems by armed forces and by the population at large
We urge State armed forces:
- to respect in all circumstances, health care workers, facilities and medical transports and to allow patients to receive adequate care, regardless of affiliation
- to revise military rules of engagement and operational practice to ensure measures for the protection of healthcare delivery are included and that military personnel are adequately trained in them
We urge all non-state actors:
- to respect in all circumstances, in particular in situations of armed conflict or other emergencies, health care workers, facilities and medical transports and to allow patients to receive adequate care, regardless of affiliation
We encourage international and national humanitarian and health organisations:
- to continue advocating for the preservation of humanitarian action, the respect of the "Ethical Principles of Health Care in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Emergencies“ endorsed by civilian and military healthcare organisations in June 2015, and the protection of patients, health-care personnel, facilities and medical transport in armed conflict or other emergencies and to join ongoing efforts or to start their own initiatives to those ends
- To ensure that health facilities they govern are taking necessary actions to reduce the risk of violence on site
International Committee of Military Medicine; International committee of the Red Cross; International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; International Hospital Federation; World Federation for Medical Education; World Medical Association; World Health Organization.
Health Care in Danger is an initiative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to make access to, and delivery of, health care safer in armed conflict or other emergencies. This initiative calls for the respect and protection of health-care workers, facilities and vehicles and the implementation of a series of recommendations and practical measures to safeguard health-care services and their humanitarian mission. This initiative is supported by a number of partners, individuals and organisations, members of the Health Care in Danger Community of Concern.
For more information visit the Health Care in Danger website
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