ISLAMABAD - The medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, on Thursday launched a petition urging citizens to call on President Barack Obama and the United States to consent to an independent investigation into this month’s “repeated” US bombing of its trauma hospital in northern Afghanistan, in which 22 people were killed.
The charity, also known by its French acronym MSF, in a statement emailed to VOA, said that the drive is a global initiative that will also be spearheaded by MSF offices worldwide.
"There must be an independent and impartial investigation to establish the facts of this horrific attack on our hospital. We call on President Obama to consent to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) investigation without delay.”
A day earlier Doctors Without Borders announced that the Swiss-based IHFFC has been activated at the request of a state that it did not name.
The charity insisted that consent is required before an impartial truth-seeking probe can be launched into the attack that it says completely destroyed the hospital and killed 12 of its staff along with patients while three dozen people were wounded.
"Respect for the laws of war is what protects our staff and patients in conflict zones throughout the world," the statement quoted Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA, as saying.
“Consenting to the inquiry is a critical step for President Obama to demonstrate the U.S. government's commitment to the Geneva conventions, and that U.S. forces recognize and respect medical facilities as protected spaces under international humanitarian law.”
President Obama has apologized to the head of MSF. "There was a mistake and it's one that the U.S. owns up to," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said last week.
He said Obama "is very eager to get to the bottom of what exactly occurred."
NATO, US and Afghanistan are conducting separate probes into the incident.
However, MSF said it could not rely on internal investigations by parties to the conflict.
"We have received apologies and condolences, but that is not enough," said MSF International President Joanna Liu.
"We are still in the dark about why a well-known hospital full of patients and medical staff was repeatedly bombarded for more than an hour. We need to understand what happened and why.”
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General John Campbell, said the United States was taking the blame for carrying out the October 3 raid after Afghan forces requested it to attack Taliban insurgents it believed were firing from inside the medical facility.
But the question remains whether the U.S. should have agreed to the attack.
“The precise GPS coordinates of the four-year-old MSF hospital in Kunduz were provided to U.S. and Afghan authorities in Washington and Kabul in the days prior to the bombing, and the hospital contained nearly 200 patients and staff at the time of the attack,” MSF reiterated in its statement issued Thursday.