Violence against patients and health-care workers is one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues today. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement runs a global campaign aiming to improve security and delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.
In many war-torn countries, ambulances or hospitals are directly targeted, resulting in death or injury to health-care staff and patients. Health workers are often harassed or threatened by fighters, but can also be victims of killing, kidnapping or robbery. The wounded and the sick are regularly reported to be the victims of death or injury, harassment and intimidation.
Thousands of people in several areas of western Central African Republic have been forced to flee into the bush, taking with them only what they can carry. Health-care structures have been looted and health staff have fled, leaving no functioning facilities outside of the capital Bangui, except for those provided by humanitarian organizations.
Violence in the western town of Yaloké has forced people to take refuge in the bush, following similar events in Bouca and Bossangoa. No health facilities are operating outside the capital Bangui, with the exception of those provided by humanitarian organizations. There is a shortage of medicines. Health centres are closed or have been looted.
The crisis in the Central African Republic is affecting hundreds of thousands across the country. People are desperate as armed violence continues and medical facilities are attacked and looted, forcing staff to flee and depriving thousands of health care.
Francoise Duroch of Médecins sans frontières describes how conflict and violence disrupt health care and how medical workers find themselves the direct targets of violence. She explains how MSF is sometimes forced to suspend its activities and the conditions under which the organization will go public about a situation.
In this joint op-ed originally published by Al Jazeera, the president of MSF international, Dr Unni Karunakara and ICRC president Peter Maurer expose the scale of threats to health care, the consequences and what the organizations are doing to bring about real change on the ground.
Dozens of people are dying every day because of limited access to proper health-care services and shortages of essential medical supplies. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are doing their utmost to help save lives by donating much-needed supplies throughout the country.
After several days of heavy fighting in Kitchanga, in the Masisi territory of North Kivu, the situation of the civilian population is critical. Staff from the ICRC who entered the city on 5 March found corpses lying in the streets and extensive destruction. St Benoît Hospital, one of only two hospitals in the city, had been hit by shells.
Mr Mohammad-Shahabeddin Mohammadi-Araghi, international humanitarian law (IHL) expert and Under Secretary General of the Iranian Red Crescent, was recently released after being kidnapped while on duty in Libya with six other members of his team.
In conflict zones the world over, health-care workers come under fire as they treat the sick and wounded. It is not just their lives that are at risk, but also the lives of the casualties they treat. Health-care workers must not be attacked: it’s a matter of life and death.
Entire villages have been destroyed and health-care centres looted in western Cote d'Ivoire. As an uneasy calm settles, thousands of refugees and internally displaced people are starting to return home.