Tuesday 6 December 2016

UN report highlights growing death toll of 'deliberate' attacks on hospitals

Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

A Syrian Army soldier inspects a damaged emergency room inside National Hospital after explosions hit the Syrian city of Jableh
A Syrian Army soldier inspects a damaged emergency room inside National Hospital after explosions hit the Syrian city of Jableh

Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in attacks on health centres worldwide over the past two years, almost 40pc of them in Syria, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

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The UN agency documented 594 attacks, resulting in 959 deaths and 1,561 injuries in 19 countries in 2014 and 2015.

Syria had the most attacks on hospitals, ambulances, patients and medical workers, in which 352 died.

The Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Iraq, Pakistan and Libya, followed.

Some 62pc of all attacks were deemed intentional and many led to disruption of public health services.

"The majority of these are intentional," Dr Bruce Aylward, executive director of WHO's emergency programme, told a news briefing.

He added: "It is more and more difficult to deploy people into these places, it is getting more and more difficult to keep them safe."

The figures include 42 killed and 37 wounded in a US air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan last October.

A US military report said the incident was caused by human error, equipment failure and other factors, but MSF has called for an independent inquiry.

WHO said 53pc of the attacks were perpetrated by states, 30pc by armed groups and 17pc remain unknown.

"One of the most important rules of war you is that you don't attack health care facilities,," said Rick Brennan, WHO director of emergency risk management.

Irish Independent

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