Southern Africans urged to support investigation into US attack on MSF hospital

October 21, 2015 6:01 am 

CAPE TOWN, Oct. 20 — The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Tuesday urged people in Southern Africa to support its petition drive for an independent investigation into the U.S. attack on an MSF hospital in Afghanistan.

The petition aims for over 300,000 signatures to urge U.S. to consent to a probe by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) into the deadly airstrikes on the Kunduz Hospital on Oct. 3, which killed 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients and wounded more than 30 people, MSF said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

MSF launched the petition on Monday, urging citizens around the world to call on U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.S. to consent to the independent investigation.

The IHFFC, the only permanent body set up specifically to investigate violations of international humanitarian law, has formally offered its services.

"MSF is calling for the United States and the Obama administration to consent to an investigation into the Kunduz hospital bombing. Consent is required before an impartial truth-seeking investigation can be launched," the statement said.

The attack completely destroyed the hospital, cutting off access to emergency trauma care for hundreds of thousands of people in northern Afghanistan, representing a grave violation of international humanitarian law.

"Respect for the laws of war is what protects our staff and patients in conflict zones throughout the world," said Mohammed Dalwai, MSF Southern Africa president.

"There must be an independent and impartial investigation to establish the facts of this horrific attack on our hospital. We call on Southern Africans to support our petition pushing for US consent to the International Humanitarian Fact – Finding Commission investigation without delay,"he said.

Consenting to the inquiry is a critical step for Obama to demonstrate the U.S. government's commitment to the Geneva conventions, and that U.S. forces recognize and respect medical facilities as protected spaces under international humanitarian law, Dalwai said.

"Our petition has already gathered 200,000 signatures worldwide within just four days. And now we are aiming to reach an initial figure of 300,000 signatures – equaling the population of Kunduz itself. This would be a way to recognize all those who lost access to the only emergency trauma care center in all of northern Afghanistan when our hospital was destroyed," said Dalwai.

The precise GPS coordinates of the four-year-old MSF hospital in Kunduz were provided to U.S. and Afghan authorities in Washington and Kabul in the days prior to the bombing, and the hospital contained nearly 200 patients and staff at the time of the attack.

Investigations have been launched by the U.S., NATO, and the Afghan government, but it is impossible to expect parties involved in the conflict to carry out independent and impartial investigations of military actions in which they are themselves implicated, Dalwai said. (PNA/Xinhua)

RMA/SSC

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