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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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