News / Africa

Report Says Health Workers Are Targets

A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Pakistan’s health minister says the country is taking extra ordinary measures to meet the new situation it is going to face after polio travel restri
A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Pakistan’s health minister says the country is taking extra ordinary measures to meet the new situation it is going to face after polio travel restri

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workers

Joe DeCapua
Health workers are frequently becoming targets in countries undergoing conflict or civil unrest. A new report says since 2012, hundreds have been attacked in dozens of countries.Human Rights Watch and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition jointly issued the report called Under Attack.
 
Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workers
Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workersi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Joe Amon, HRW’s health and human rights director, “Well, there’s been an increasing number of attacks against health workers, against patients and against health facilities. And this is occurring really globally. We’ve seen it in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. And it’s really something that needs broader attention and really a vigorous response.”
 
The attacks include the killing of 70 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan and Nigeria. The report also accuses opposition forces in South Sudan of shooting patients, as well as looting and burning hospitals and clinics in Bentiu, Malakal and Bor.
 
“It’s clear that in some cases people are deliberately targeting health workers. They’re seen as providing care to the opposition, instead of being seen as neutral medical providers. In other cases they may be in a crossfire, but it’s interrupting and really destabilizing critical health services for civilians in these settings,” he said.
 
The report listed dozens of attacks, killings and abductions of health workers in Afghanistan. It said the country now has a shortage of qualified women providing medical care.
 
Amon dave other examples of growing danger. 
 
“We’re also seeing attacks in Turkey and Bahrain, for example, doctors being arrested and detained for providing care. It’s a phenomenon that’s of real concern. And I think the severity of the attacks is also increasing.”
 
The attacks have caused some hospitals and clinics to shut down.
 
“In some cases, yes,” said Amon,  “In Somalia and Central African Republic, that’s definitely occurred. And when that happens, it can leave thousands of people without any access to health care at all.”
 
The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders closed its hospital in the northern CAR town of Boguila. That followed an attack on April 26th.  Sixteen civilians were killed, including three of the group’s employees.
 
The Human Rights Watch official said a number of things can be done to protect health workers.
 
“One is we need more information when attacks occur. We need to get better security for health workers in these places. Countries that have criminalized the provision of care to protesters need to repeal those laws. And there needs to be general respect for the idea that medical providers are providing care without regard to politics -- and that they should be left out of conflict settings and not targeted at all.”
 
Amon said the international community can also do more.
 
“Next week, ministers [of] health from around the world are meeting in Geneva. And one of the things they’ll be looking at is a resolution from two years ago that they passed to do more on this issue -- to do more surveillance of the issue and to do more response for it. I think clearly the Human Rights Council, the ministers of health from these countries, the WHO, other agencies, can say that this is a real priority. These kinds of attacks undermine the basic security of access to health care that people need,” he said.
 
The health ministers will meet from May 19th through the 24th.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid