New Zealand aid workers are applauding the Government’s efforts today. A resolution co-sponsored by New Zealand condemning attacks on hospitals and aid workers was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council.
The resolution (UNSC 2286) strongly condemns attacks on medical infrastructure and personnel in conflict situations, and demands accountability for warring parties who violate fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law. It also demands that all parties to armed conflict facilitate safe and unimpeded passage for medical and humanitarian personnel.
“New Zealand aid workers commend the Government for using its seat on the UN Security Council to stand up against war crimes and defend fundamental humanitarian principles,” said Mark Mitchell, Chair of the NGO Disaster Relief Forum, the coordinating body for New Zealand’s humanitarian agencies. Christian World Service is a member of NDRF.
“This year we’ve watched as our humanitarian colleagues and the people under their care have suffered violent attacks in alarming numbers,” added Mitchell. “New Zealanders need to understand that this is something new, and it must not be tolerated. Even wars have rules, and the protection of medical relief workers is one of the oldest. Today, these rules are under threat.”
The resolution comes just a week after an aerial bomb ripped through a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo, killing 27. Elsewhere, in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen, hospitals have been routinely bombed, raided, looted or burned to the ground. In some instances, patients were shot in their beds. In 11 of the world’s war zones, between 2011 and 2014, the International Committee of the Red Cross tallied nearly 2,400 acts of violence against those who were working to provide health care. That works out to two attacks a day.
While the New Zealand-led resolution is a welcome first step, more needs to be done.
“Words alone won’t stop the attacks,” said Mitchell. “New Zealand has six months left on the Council to ensure these words are matched by actions. As a start, that means attacks on hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, for example in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, must be independently investigated and those responsible held to account.”
NDRF is an autonomous sub-committee of the Council for International Development. NDRF members are ADRA, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, cbm, ChildFund, Christian World Service, Habitat for Humanity, The Leprosy Mission, Oxfam, RedR, Rotary New Zealand World Community Service, The Salvation Army, Save the Children New Zealand, SurfAid, TEARFund, UNICEF, World Vision, World Animal Protection. NDRF has two observers: Red Cross and Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
5 May 2016