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No protected status assurances yet from warring parties: MSF

No protected status assurances yet from warring parties: MSF

May 02, 2016 - 17:32

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Monday once again demanded complete assurances on the protected status of medical care from the US forces, the Afghan government and militants before resuming work in northern Kunduz province.

At least 42 people, including patients and medics, were killed and many more wounded in the much-denounced airstrike on MSF Trauma Centre in Kunduz City on Oct. 3, 2015.

The Pentagon on Friday announced that 16 military personnel will be disciplined for the deadly US strike on the hospital, but maintained that it was not a war crime because it resulted from unintentional human error and equipment failure.

The military said some personnel involved "failed to comply with the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict," and that a general officer was among those facing discipline for their roles in the bombing of the hospital.

The punishments include suspension and removal from command, letters of reprimand, formal counseling and extensive retraining. These punishments would have adverse effects on promotion of the personnel involved, according to the US military.

Twelve of the punishments were administered by US Forces Afghanistaninfo-icon, while the remainder were carried out by US Special Operations Command.

Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, made the announcement at a news conference in Washington. The investigation had identified 16 service personnel that had "warranted consideration for appropriate administrative or disciplinary action."

But MSF’s Afghanistan director, Guilhem Molinie, told a press conference in Kabul on Monday that disciplinary punishment to the perpetrators of the incident was ‘incomparable' with the killing of 42 people and injuring dozens others.

About the Pentagon report, he said: “The investigation is not satisfactory and the incident needs more and independent investigation.”

Molinie expressed concern that the MSF and other organizations that were busy providing healthcare had repeatedly been targeted in such attacks and no party to the conflict had so far provided explanation about their actions.

About resumption of MSF work in Kunduz, he said: “We can’t put our teams – including our colleagues who survived the traumatic attack –a back to work in Kunduz without first having strong and unambiguous assurances from all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan that this will not happen again.”

The organisation said the lack of proper healthcare centers and the delay in giving protection assurance to MSF staff had led to increased death toll from the conflict in Afghanistan.

Molinie said their request for investigation into the bombing of Kunduz hospital by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission was yet to be answered.

The US paid $6,000 to each of victim families as condolence money and $3,000 to each wounded, a compensation MSF called as unacceptable.



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