The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today released an internal document reviewing the October 3 airstrikes by US forces on its hospital in northern Afghanistan. The chronological review of the events leading up to, during, and immediately following the airstrikes reveal no reason why the hospital should have come under attack. There were no armed combatants or fighting within or from the hospital grounds.
Hospitals have protected status under the rules of war. And yet in the early hours of 3 October, the MSF hospital in Kunduz
came under relentless and brutal aerial attack by US forces.
Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC130 gunship while fleeing the burning building. At least 30 MSF staff and patients were killed.
This week, MSF concluded an initial review of the facts before, during and in the aftermath of the airstrikes. Although our internal review is an ongoing process, we have decided to share these initial outcomes with the public, to counter speculation and to be transparent. Details that could identify individuals have been removed. Explanatory footnotes have been added in places where an external reader may need additional clarification.
This is the view from inside the hospital. What we lack is the view from outside the hospital – what happened within the military chains of command.
The facts compiled in this review confirm our initial observations: the MSF trauma centre was fully functioning as a hospital with 105 patients admitted and surgeries ongoing at the time of the US airstrikes; the MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the `no weapons’ policy; MSF was in full control of the hospital before and at the time of the airstrikes; there were no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity of the trauma centre before the airstrikes.
What we know is that we were running a hospital treating patients, including wounded combatants from both sides – this was not a `Taliban base.’
The question remains as to whether our hospital lost its protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack – and if so, why. The answer does not lie within the MSF hospital. Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the airstrikes hold these answers.
- ○ New report reveals MSF staff’s fruitless calls for help as hospital came under fire | The Guardian |
○ Fact-finding body (IHFFC) asks to conduct probe into US airstrikes on Afghan hospital
See my breaking news diary – MSF Chief: Deliberate Bombing Hospital in Kunduz A War Crime.