In May 2017, Watchlist participated in a series of events at the annual World Health Assembly, including a side-event on May 22 focused on attacks on health care entitled: “Attacks on Healthcare. Where Do We Stand One Year After the Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2286,” and a side-event on May 24 focused on the four famines entitled “Four Famines: Can the Catastrophe Be Averted.” At the side-event focused on attacks on health care, Len Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (of which Watchlist is a steering committee member), discussed in his intervention Watchlist’s most recent report “Every Day Things are Getting Worse” The Impact on Children of Attacks on Health Care in Yemen and highlighted how in Yemen and many other countries throughout the world parties to the conflict are systematically attacking medical facilities and personnel as tactics of war. The event helped prompt a debate regarding the urgent need to implement Security Council Resolution 2286 and opportunities and challenges for doing so in both the Security Council and Human Rights Council.
At the four famines event, panelists from Action Against Hunger, the Global Nutrition Cluster, Save the Children, and the World Health Organization presented upon ways they were individually and collectively working in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen to meet Secretary-General Guterres’s Call to Action on famine. Watchlist offered prepared remarks regarding the ways in which parties to the conflict were denying humanitarian aid in these countries as well as attacking medical facilities and personnel—causing exponential increases in civilians’ needs for health care, through famine and other preventable diseases, while at the same time drastically reducing civilians’ access to health care. Watchlist will continue encouraging discussion among Member States, civil society, and UN agencies regarding how better protection of medical facilities and personnel and accountability for perpetrators of attacks is central to responding to the famine crises.