Target: U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter
Goal: Ensure U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan don’t hit civilian areas and hospitals.
The Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the only medical center in the region that can treat major injuries, was destroyed in a recent U.S. airstrike that resulted in 19 casualties, including three children. The U.S. and Afghan military continued the air strike for 30 minutes after officials were told that the hospital was caught in the crossfire. The military was aware of the hospital’s location and the government is still trying to determine how it got hit. U.S. forces have been launching over a dozen air strikes in the area this week in support of Afghan Security Forces against Taliban fighters.
The surrounding area of the hospital has seen intense fighting between U.S. forces and the Taliban, who recently took over the city. U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemned the air strike, calling the tragedy inexcusable. He noted that if the investigation uncovers that the assault on the hospital was deliberate, it could amount to a war crime. The medical charity stated three children, four adult patients and 12 staff personnel died during the attack, an additional 37 people were wounded and many are still missing. By the end of the attack, the hospital was in flames.
Health care facilities and humanitarian aid workers are protected by international humanitarian law from military force and bombings. War-torn areas are in dire need of aid and these kinds of attacks deeply discourage humanitarian organizations from providing help. Urge the U.S. Government to take the necessary steps to ensure both civilians and humanitarian workers are protected from future attacks.
Dear Mr. Carter,
The recent airstrike that led to 19 casualties at a medical center in Kunduz is a frightening tragedy that cannot happen again. International law protects health care facilities and humanitarian workers from military attacks. The investigation must answer why the bombing continued after the military was notified that the hospital was being struck.
The Afghan President’s spokesman said there wouldn’t be air strikes inside the city because of the risk of civilian casualties, yet it occurred anyways, with the worst imagined outcome. Afghan civilian casualties resulting from bombs dropped by U.S. forces are a common reoccurrence and fear. If charities and doctors believe they’re not protected while providing aid in war-torn countries, they’ll be deterred from helping.
Please continue the investigation on how and why this tragedy occurred. I urge you to make civilian and humanitarian aid safety a main priority and assure that U.S. led airstrikes won’t hit a medical center again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris