Aid agencies back call for investigation into 'horrific' US attack on MSF hospital

A group of the world’s leading aid agencies has backed ’ call for an unprecedented international investigation into .

The US has accepted responsibility for airstrikes that hit a trauma centre in the northern city of Kunduz on 3 October, .

MSF, which is also known as Doctors Without Borders, is calling for an investigation into the incident by the (IHFFC), which was established in 1991 under the Geneva conventions but has never been used before.

MSF’s US director, Jason Cone, has said that a fully impartial independent investigation is required as the charity “cannot rely on only internal military investigations by the US, Nato, and Afghan forces”.

, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid, threw its weight behind MSF’s call and urged the UN and member states to commit to an investigation without delay.

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The group, known as the , added: “The world is a safer place for all peoples when humanitarian action is respected. An IHFFC investigation, regardless of its outcome, will confirm that governments and people around the world value the Geneva conventions and the protection of humanitarian workers. Even war has limits in a civilised world.”

The IHFFC, which is based in Switzerland, and “stands ready to undertake an investigation”, but added that it could only open an inquiry with the consent of the international community.

MSF said it had shared the GPS coordinates of the hospital with US and Afghan military and civilian officials as recently as five days before the bombing. It also said it had notified US and Afghan officials at the start of the bombing, but the aerial raid continued for up to half an hour after they raised the alarm.

The NGOs said the incident showed “the growing lack of respect for the and other international norms in conflicts around the world”, adding: “This is having a catastrophic effect on civilian populations and on humanitarian workers.”

are a set of four treaties signed in 1949 that outline humanitarian treatment during wartime.

Washington has promised to investigate the incident and , “to apologise and express his condolences” about the incident.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) . “Such attacks against health workers and facilities undermine the capacity of humanitarian organisations to assist the Afghan people at a time when they most urgently need it,” said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC’s Afghanistan office.

to the families of those killed in the airstrikes on Kunduz. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Peter Cook, said: “One step the department can take is to make condolence payments to civilian non-combatants injured and the families of civilian non-combatants killed as a result of US military operations.”

Mike Noyes, head of humanitarian response at the international NGO ActionAid, said: “This terrible bombing in needs independent investigation now. It was a clearly indicated hospital and protected under international law. But sadly this is not an isolated incident – civilians and aid workers are killed and injured in conflicts almost every day.

“Since this attack, airborne attacks have killed many civilians in Yemen and other bombs have hit hospitals in Syria. The growing lack of respect for the Geneva conventions must be challenged. People have a right to protection and safety under international law and the world must do more to see this respected.”

Source : theguardian[dot]com
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