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US airstrike on Afghan hospital attack on Geneva conversion: MSF

7 October 2015 16:26



The aid organization, Doctors without Borders, has slammed the recent deadly US airstrike on its hospital in the Afghan northern city of Kunduz as “an attack on the Geneva conventions.”

“This was not just an attack on our hospital, it was an attack on the Geneva conventions. This cannot be tolerated,” Joanne Liu, the president of the group, known by its French acronym as the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), said in a statement on Wednesday.

Liu said that the air raid was in violation of the international law because targeting hospitals in war zones is in breach of the Geneva Convention.

The MSF chief called for an independent and impartial investigation into the incident which killed 12 MSF staff and ten patients.

She further criticized Washington for its inconsistency in explaining the air raid, saying she no longer trusts the US officials’ account of the attack.

“We cannot rely on internal military investigation by the US, NATO and Afghan forces,” Liu said.

She said that International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) was “the only permanent body set up specifically to investigate violations on an international humanitarian law.”

The MSF head further urged the “signatory states to activate the Commission to establish the truth and to reassert the protected status of hospitals in conflicts.”

The IHFFC was established in 1991 under the Geneva Conventions that regulate issues of war.

The United States carried out the air strike on the hospital in Kunduz on October 3, which resulted in the deaths of 22 civilians.

Officials at the humanitarian organization have blamed the United States, calling it a war crime.

On Monday, the White House said the US airstrike against the MSF hospital was not a “war crime.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in response to a question on whether the incident was a “war crime,” said, “Well, I wouldn’t use a label like that because that is under investigation.”

He also said President Barack Obama “has confidence” in the three investigations which are being conducted by the Department of Defense, NATO, as well as one between US and Afghan military personnel.

The picture shows medical personnel treating wounded colleagues and patients in a hospital in Kunduz on October 3, 2015. (AFP photo)


There were conflicting statements from different US military officials about the airstrikes.

General John Campbell, a top US commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the attack was carried out at the request of Afghan forces.

The US military had previously said that American troops were under Taliban fire and had called in the strike. It termed the hospital as “collateral damage.”

However, the hospital dismissed claims that members of the Taliban militant group were firing against Afghan and US forces from the clinic.

On Tuesday, The US General John Campbell acknowledged that Washington’s decision to launch an airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz was a mistake.

Following the deadly incident, the MSF said in a statement that its trauma center in Kunduz was hit several times. It added that the aerial assault continued for more than half an hour after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

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