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The Sydney Office stands in solidarity that medical space is #NotATarget

09 May 2016

On May 3, 2016, the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution designed to stop future attacks against hospitals, patients and civilians in war zones. Médecins Sans Frontières has launched a social media act of solidarity to stand up for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, patients, medical staff and hospitals in conflicts. This campaign will continue regardless of the UN resolution, calling for all medical space to be respected.

Specifically, we want to make sure that this resolution will:

  • Reaffirm all countries' existing obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL); 
  • Reaffirm the protection of the impartial provision of medical care, health workers and of all patients, regardless of their background (as per IHL)
  • Establish effective independent investigations to report attacks on medical facilities and hold accountable those who attack.

The world has reached a disturbing tipping point in modern warfare. After World War II, hundreds of countries agreed to protect civilians by signing onto the Geneva Conventions.Today, these same countries are now ruthlessly bombing civilian targets. The states that signed the Geneva Conventions, including United Nations member states and members of the Security Council, no longer seem compelled to uphold international humanitarian law, which regulates just and proportionate warfare.

In 2015,  63 hospitals and clinics supported by us were hit by bombing and shelling in Syria more than 94 times – that’s on average more than once a week. In total, 23 Médecins Sans Frontières medical staff were killed, and 58 staff were wounded.

In Afghanistan, on October 3, 2015, the US military destroyed our hospital in Kunduz, killing 42 people – the highest number of staff and patients killed in a single incident in the history of the Médecins Sans Frontières' humanitarian work.

In Yemen, our medical activities were attacked by airstrikes and bombings four times in just three months between October 2015 and January 2016.

We cannot accept that this “new normal” should define modern warfare. The targeted killing of civilians, medical staff and patients cannot continue, regardless of which armed force or forces is responsible. We are seeking to grow the public’s awareness around this issue. We encourage you to help us by participating in our #NotATarget social media campaign, and to take a stand in solidarity with innocent civilians and humanitarian aid workers around the world.