Despite the focus being removed from Afghanistan, there are still U.S. troops there and we are still at war there. Bombs are dropping there. People are being killed there. Innocent people. The latest were killed in a hospital as they healed or helped others to heal.
The hospital in Kunduz was the trauma center for Médecins Sans Frontières — aka Doctors Without Borders — a humanitarian organization that provides medical care wherever needed. The medical center is located in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Since fighting broke out in the city on Monday, the hospital has been treating the wounded.
In light of the bombings, the GPS coordinates of the hospital had been provided to the Coalition forces several times and as recently as Tuesday. These forces (and enemy forces, as well) knew the exact location of the hospital. But they bombed anyway and, predictably, hit the hospital:
From 2:08 AM until 3:15 AM local time today, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by a series of aerial bombing raids at approximately fifteen minute intervals. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.
There were one hundred and five patients in the hospital at the time of the bombing. They were being treated by eighty MSF staff. At least twelve staff members and seven patients died in the attack, which went on for over half an hour. Three of the patients were children. Among the injured are nineteen more MSF staff members.
What was our military’s response? Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan released the following statement:
US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15 am [local time] on 3 October against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation.
“Collateral damage?” What the actual f**k? The deaths of twelve people who give up their time to leave home and go to a war-torn area to care for others is not “collateral damage.” The deaths of three wounded children and four adults who had already been harmed by the fighting is not “collateral damage.” The deaths caused by our bombs cannot be written off as “collateral damage.”
MSF has, rightly, called for an independent investigation of the incident. In a press release on Saturday, MSF President Meinie Nicolai was vehement:
This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’. Besides resulting in the deaths of our colleagues and patients, this attack has cut off access to urgent trauma care for the population in Kunduz at a time when its services are most needed. Once again, we call on all warring parties to respect civilians, health facilities, and medical staff, according to International Humanitarian Law.
MSF International’s Twitter feed continues to update on the aftermath of the bombing. One particularly poignant Tweet asks the question we all should be asking:
— MSF International (@MSF) October 3, 2015
There was no excuse for this. All parties had the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital. There is no reason, ever, to bomb a medical facility. There’s a reason this is part of the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law. “Patients burning in their beds,” is not what our tax money should be paying for.
Here is video from MSF *Warning* Disturbing images:
featured image via MSF International Twitter