Health-care workers in conflict areas must be protected

Health-care workers must be better protected in areas of conflict such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. This was the main issue discussed today at the meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer.

 

“I am deeply concerned by the fact that increasing numbers of health-care workers and hospitals are being attacked and threatened by warring parties. In consultation with the ICRC, I hope to bring countries together across regional and political divides to enhance the protection of health care in areas of conflict,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide commented.

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer said that he had two main concerns as far as the safety of health-care workers and respect for them is concerned. Firstly, that those injured in a conflict may not receive the immediate life-saving assistance they need, and secondly, that in the longer term the civilian population may be afraid to seek medical help for fear of being attacked.

The ICRC has recently documented 644 violent incidents targeting health-care workers and health-care facilities in 16 countries over a two-year period. The incidents described in the report Health Care in Danger include the use of explosive weapons, the destruction of ambulances, and the kidnapping and killing of health-care personnel.

The ICRC is one of Norway’s most important partners in providing humanitarian assistance in crisis and conflict situations. The ICRC is also an important player in efforts to develop a well-functioning humanitarian system based on international humanitarian law.

“The ICRC works effectively and carries out extremely important tasks in humanitarian crises all over the world. I am often impressed by its ability to help people where others have to admit defeat, as we are now seeing in Syria, Gaza, Mali and DR Congo,” Mr Eide said.

“I am therefore pleased to be able to announce that Norway will allocate an additional NOK 60 million to the work of the ICRC in conflict areas all over the world,” Mr Eide said.

 

 

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