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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid