Medecin sans Frontier (Doctors without Borders) is a remarkable organization of medical professionals who set up hospitals in remote and very often dangerous places in the world where other health providers often will not go.
Last month a horrific bombing by U.S. and Afghan forces destroyed an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan where patients burned in their beds, MSF staff members were killed and in one case decapitated. In all, 30 people were killed including 13 staff members, ten patients and seven unrecognizable victims yet to be indentified.
Even more heinous and unbelievable is that staff members were shot while fleeing the building. MSF carefully informed both Afghan and U.S officials of the coordinates of the hospital on a regular basis. The attack lasted for half an hour after the authorities were informed of the bombing!
MSF has demanded an independent investigation of the incident and will not be satisfied with simply and internal one done by the Pentagon and Afghan government. So far one explanation is that the forces thought the hospital was under Taliban control a fact that MSF vehemently refutes.
This is not the first MSF facility to be attacked by U.S. and allied forces. Another hospital this time in Heedan, Yemen was attacked 23 days after the one in Kuduz.
These attacks violate the Geneva Convention and every humanitarian law on the books.
So why the attacks?
MSF, as their name implies, treats human beings without regard to their military affiliations, in other words wounded are wounded, Taliban, ISAL, Americans, Afghans etc. etc. I am sure this raises questions with trigger-happy gunners on war ships and higher ups as well.
MSF has conducted 60 interviews with staff who were in the hospital at the time and has compiled a report that states that MSF did everything it possibly could do to make sure the U.S. and Afghan forces knew the hospital was a civilian hospital treating wounded from all sides. Their rules are that no one may carry a weapon inside or around the buildings and they (MSF) have no agenda as to taking sides in conflicts.
MSF has sent their findings to The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding commission based in Bern, Switzerland. It was created out of additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions.
So far the U.S. is still treating the incident as “an accident,” and has promised to investigate but will not comment on whether they will accept an independent investigation.