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The attack on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz Afghanistan last year led to the deaths of 42 patients and staff.
In the run up to a memorial event commemorating one year since the attack, the BMA is reproducing an account of the bombing written by Australian intensive care specialist Dr Kathleen Thomas, who witnessed the attack.
Click here to read Parts one and two.
Part three: The aftermath of Kunduz & attacks on the medical mission
The repercussions of the attack in Kunduz were to reach far beyond the lives lost and those injured.
As a result, all of northern Afghanistan was left without any trauma facility. The injured now had to make their way all the way to Kabul, way too far for many trauma victims.
In 2015 alone, 75 MSF hospitals, predominately in Syria and Yemen, but also in Ukraine and Sudan, were attacked.
Only some of these attacks attracted media attention because of their international profile and NGO status.
The reality is that medical care is under fire, our colleagues around the world are under fire. We are under fire.
Where once a red cross would ensure protection in warzones, now hospitals in both Syria and Yemen are built underground, staff disguise themselves to hide their occupation, and their GPS coordinates are kept secret.
International humanitarian law clearly protects hospitals and medical personnel in any armed conflict.
Despite calls from NGOs such as MSF and even a UN Security Council resolution, hospitals continue to be bombed with impunity.
Why is this the case?
In regards to Kunduz – accountability for the attack is complicated. But enforcement of International Humanitarian Law is inherently problematic and when four of the five permanent UN security council members are involved to varying degrees in these attacks, it is easy to imagine the barriers to enforceability.
Just before being evacuated to safety after the bombing, leaving behind my surviving colleagues in the ruins of the hospital in a city still in the midst of war, the last thing that was said to me was: ‘Please, please tell the world our story.’
As I have watched hospital after hospital bombed in Syria and Yemen, I realise that it is not just the story of the Kunduz hospital attack that I must tell.
It is the story of countless patients and medical staff attacked in hospitals around the world.