News release

Afghanistan: Medical facilities must not be put at risk

Kabul / ICRC - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemns the violent incident that took place at the Mirwais regional hospital in Kandahar yesterday in which two people died and three others were injured.

"Medical facilities, first aid posts, clinics or hospitals, are places where the sick and injured go to be cured, not to be put at risk," said Monica Zanarelli, head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan.

Health facilities, medical staff, patients and transport being used for medical purposes are protected under international humanitarian law. All those in need of treatment, be it a mother about to give birth, someone with a chronic illness or a wounded combatant, must be allowed safe, timely and unimpeded access to health services and medical care.

"This incident is not an isolated case. Over the past year there have been dozens of occasions in which patients and staff have been put in harm's way, and even killed. Medical facilities have been attacked and drivers transporting the sick or wounded to hospital threatened or worse," said Monica Zanarelli.

In yesterday's incident the casualties were low. But it could very easily have been worse.

Mirwais, which is the largest hospital in southern Afghanistan run by the Ministry of Public Health, provides comprehensive medical care and a lifeline for more than four million people. The ICRC has supported the hospital by providing medical supplies, equipment and staff training for the past 20 years.

For further information, please contact:
Jessica Barry, ICRC Kabul, tel: +93 729 14 05 10