News / Africa

WHO: Protect Health Workers

A member of the joint U.N. African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), right, escorts three freed humanitarian workers out of a U.N. helicopter as they landed in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan, Saturday, July 19, 2014. The international peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region said three aid workers have been freed after over a month in captivity. The mission said the three were among 25 humanitarian workers abducted by armed men in North Darfur on June 18. The statement says 20 were released on the same day and two others were freed two weeks later. (AP Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID)
A member of the joint U.N. African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), right, escorts three freed humanitarian workers out of a U.N. helicopter as they landed in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan, Saturday, July 19, 2014. The international peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region said three aid workers have been freed after over a month in captivity. The mission said the three were among 25 humanitarian workers abducted by armed men in North Darfur on June 18. The statement says 20 were released on the same day and two others were freed two weeks later. (AP Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The World Health Organization warns of a growing trend of targeting health workers and hospitals during conflicts and humanitarian crises. The U.N. agency issued the warning to mark World Humanitarian Day, August 19th.

Listen to De Capua report on World Humanitarian Day
Listen to De Capua report on World Humanitarian Dayi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The World Health Organization said that “major emergencies around the world are increasing in scale, complexity and frequency.” It said that’s denying many people their “fundamental right to health.”

Dr. Richard Brennan, director of the WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, said, “Over the last 80 months is probably the busiest period in the history of humanitarian work. And that’s due to a number of high profile and very impactful emergencies in places such as Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Iraq and the Ebola epidemic right now in West Africa. Not to mention all the other crises are aren’t quite as prominent, such as Somalia and Yemen and Eastern Congo.”

The recent conflict in Gaza is another example. Health workers, clinics, patients and ambulances have been deliberately targeted in those conflicts.

Brennan said that denies people medical care when they need it most. In Pakistan and Nigeria, those administering polio vaccines, have been attacked. Most of them are women. Dr. Brennan called it a violation of international law.

“It’s abandonment of this widely held principle that’s been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years, of the sanctity of health care.”

He said the main victims of conflicts in the 21st Century are civilians.

“We’re seeing this terribly right now in northern Iraq, of course. But we’ve seeing it in South Sudan, in Central African Republic. In Central African Republic, you’ve seen whole religious and ethnic groups forced from their communities. Religious and ethnic cleansing. And underlying all of this are political issues. And unfortunately the political leaders, the community leaders, aren’t stepping forward to address the underlying causes and it’s left to the humanitarians to come in and apply band aid measures, essentially.”

Millions of people, he said, are suffering as a result. The WHO official has a message for the leaders of the warring parties.

“For the leaders of those groups, I’d ask them to move beyond their own greed, their own lust for power, their own pride. And sit down with their counterparts and come up with a compromise so their people can live in peace,” he said.

The World Health Organization says it’s working with its partners to “better document, prevent and respond” to attacks on health workers. It calls caring for the “sick and vulnerable in the world’s most difficult circumstances…one of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community.” 

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid