Tuesday, February 13, 2007

IRAQ: Armed groups occupying hospitals and kidnapping doctors

A more exceptional example of the relationship between humanitarian and military actors in this story from Reuters AlertNet. Exceptional in that humanitarian actors were using IHL in their dialogue with multinational armed forces, and not limited to questions of coordination.

The NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq (NCCI) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) made appeals to Coalition Forces and Insurgents to respect the neutral, civilian character of hospitals in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, the presence of arms carriers around hospitals in Iraq attracts attacks, and as such keeps civilians from having access to medical care. For medical staff, there is the risk of being coerced into providing treatment to combatants, of being kidnapped, or accused of collusion by the opposing forces.