In 2017, Watchlist launched the first two reports in a series of Field Monitor reports focused on the impact on children of attacks on medical facilities and personnel and denial of humanitarian access. Those reports covered the thematic issue in Afghanistan and Yemen between 2015 and 2016. This year, Watchlist released updates to the reports for both countries, documenting attacks on health care and personnel carried out between January and December 2017.
On March 16, 2018, Watchlist released “Every Clinic is Still on the Frontline” Attacks on Health Care in Afghanistan in 2017, an update to its Afghanistan Field Monitor report launched March 6, 2017 at the United Nations. In its update, Watchlist documents attacks on medical facilities and personnel and provides recommendations for key stakeholders, including the Afghan government and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Watchlist’s update report on Afghanistan details how parties to conflict have deliberately used attacks on medical facilities and personnel as a tactic of war, having carried out at least 63 attacks in 22 provinces. Watchlist also found that the increase in conflict and targeted attacks have led to a rise in the number of children who have been directly injured or who are suffering from acute malnutrition, diarrheal disease, and vaccine preventable diseases such as measles and polio.
On March 26, 2018, Watchlist published, “Every Day Things are Still Getting Worse” Attacks on Health Care and Denial of Humanitarian Access in Yemen in 2017, updating its research originally released on April 20, 2017. For this report, Watchlist researched attacks on medical facilities and personnel and denials of humanitarian access, and found that the number of documented incidents in 2017 was smaller than those in 2015 and 2016, which, rather than a sign of a decrease in such attacks, is actually an indicator of the narrowing space for humanitarian and human rights organizations throughout the country, given that the overall number of air strikes in Yemen actually increased in 2017. In fact, according to Yemen’s Protection Cluster August 2017 update, the number of airstrikes carried out in just the first half of 2017 surpassed the total number of strikes in all of 2016.
Watchlist calls on parties to the conflict in Yemen to allow and facilitate access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to reach civilians in need, and for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to allow humanitarian and commercial supplies to enter through Yemen’s ports as well as immediately re-open Sana’a airport for medical evaluation. Furthermore, Watchlist calls on the UN Secretary-General to continue listing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition for attacks on hospitals in his 2018 annual report on children and armed conflict.
Watchlist’s research in both Afghanistan and Yemen shows the devastating consequences of attacks on medical facilities and personnel, and denial of humanitarian access, on children. Both countries have experienced spikes in malnutrition and children suffering from preventable or treatable diseases. Watchlist will continue its efforts to highlight the effects on children of attacks on health care by releasing a report in mid-April focused on the issue in South Sudan.