Millions hit by violence against healthcare personnel

August 12th, 2011 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 12 (IANS) Assaults on healthcare personnel, facilities and vehicles in conflicts leave millions in the world without care just when they need it most.

This is the key finding of a new report presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Violence against healthcare facilities and personnel must end. It’s a matter of life and death,” said Yves Daccord, the director-general of the ICRC.

“The human cost is staggering: civilians and fighters often die from their injuries simply because they are prevented from receiving timely medical assistance,” he said in Geneva.

According to Robin Coupland, who led the research carried out in 16 countries, millions could be spared if the delivery of healthcare were more widely respected.

“The most shocking finding is that people die in large numbers not because they are direct victims of a roadside bomb or a shooting,” he said.

“They die because the ambulance does not get there in time, because healthcare personnel are prevented from doing their work, because hospitals are themselves targets of attacks or simply because the environment is too dangerous for effective health care to be delivered.

“Hospitals in Sri Lanka and Somalia have been shelled, ambulances in Libya shot at, paramedics in Colombia killed, and wounded people in Afghanistan forced to languish for hours in vehicles held up in checkpoint queues. The issue has been staring us in the face for years. It must end.”

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