Attacks on Health Care – Afghanistan

Ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and increased targeting of medical facilities and personnel by parties to the conflict has eroded the country’s already fragile health care system. Prompted by many reports of these attacks, Watchlist conducted an in-country research mission in November and December 2016. Watchlist found that more than 240 attacks had been carried out by parties to the conflict in at least 20 provinces throughout Afghanistan, including the forced or temporary closure of medical facilities; damage or destruction of medical facilities; looting of medical supplies; theft of ambulances; threat, intimidation, extortion, detention, or death of medical personnel; and the occupation of medical facilities for military purposes. Watchlist also found that disruptions in health care access from these attacks have compounded challenges to children’s health, which were already exacerbated by the escalation of the conflict in 2015. In the past two years, an increase in conflict and targeted attacks on health care have led to more children directly injured and suffering from acute malnutrition, diarrheal disease, and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Watchlist calls upon parties to the conflict to immediately cease attacks against medical facilities and personnel and on the Government of Afghanistan to take concrete measures to remedy impunity for violations of international law relating to the protection of medical care in armed conflict.

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