Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition Update
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Dear friends,
As 2016 draws to a close, all of us committed to strengthening the security of health care continue to face enormous challenges: impunity for atrocities inflicted on hospitals, patients, and medical staff in Syria; sustained attacks on health in Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and many other countries; and uncertainty concerning the protection of our human rights in general.
But we should recognize the important work also happening to ensure people have safe and uniterrupted access to health care they need, even in the most difficult and violent environments. This of course includes work by members of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition.

The Syrian American Medical Society, for instance, continues to support heroic health workers saving lives under fire in Aleppo and demand action by the international community, while Physicians for Human Rights won't allow the world to forget the growing number of attacks on health in Syria, month by month. And ACBAR in Afghanistan campaigns for protection of health care in a very different difficult environment.

And just in the last two months, Defenders for Medical Impartiality brought the issue of attacks on doctors in before the United Nations Human Rights Council. The International Federation of Medical Students Associations conducted workshops for medical students in several regions to train them in international humanitarian law and inspire them to work for protection. Watchlist on Chidren in Armed Conflict engaged in new research to understand the impact of attacks in Afghanistan and Yemen. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation compelled the global nursing community to recognize the severity of the crisis.
These are only a few examples of the work or advocacy efforts of coalition members (more provided below). And together we have built the foundation for prevention of attacks and accountability at the global level. Although Security Council Resolution 2286—which was passed in May—hasn’t stopped the carnage in Syria and elsewhere, it strengthens our case for action. After years of indifference, the World Health Organization has finally become outspoken against attacks on health care. 
Thanks in part to the work of the coalition, our members, and YOU, a form of violence the world paid no attention to is no longer ignored. There is difficult work ahead, but we are developing the tools and mechanisms to stop it.
—Len Rubenstein, Chair
Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition
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Coalition Statement

The UN Security Council Should Take Immediate Action to Protect Health Workers and Health Care in Conflict Around the World

We welcomed passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2286 in May, condemning attacks on health and calling for Member States to adhere to international human rights law, develop strategies to prevent attacks, and bring perpetrators to justice. But dozens of attacks have been carried out on hospitals and health workers in Syria, Yemen, and other countries around the world since adopting the Resolution.

The coalition recommends the Security Council take three immediate steps to implement the resolution and protect health workers and services in conflict:
  • Hold Security Council briefings on specific country situations and initiate fact-finding investigations where warranted
  • Urge Member State reporting on steps taken to protect health care
  • Request the Secretary-General to ensure UN agencies collect data on attacks and collate for public reporting.
Key Report
Cover of No Protection, No Respect report
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Work of Coalition Members to Protect Health Care
PHR logo

Anatomy of a Crisis: A Map of Attacks on Health Care in Syria

Since the outbreak of violence in Syria in March 2011, at least 382 health facilities have been attacked and at least 757 health workers have been killed. Physicians for Human Rights has been documenting attacks on health workers and facilities across the country and provides the information via an interactive map.
IFMSA logo

Statement on Protection of Health Services

With the recent surge of violence in Aleppo, Syria, every hospital in east Aleppo has been damaged to the extent of putting them out of service (confirmed by the WHO), leaving more than 250,000 people without access to health care. In light of this, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) reaffirms its firm stance against violations of international humanitarian law and attacks on health workers, facilities, and systems.
SOS logo

Patients Trying to Exit Gaza Face Increased Difficulties

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) is concerned by 2016 data showing patients who require exit permits for medical treatment outside of the Gaza stripincluding those with cancer and heart diseaseface increasing difficulty in accessing care. The data builds on PHRI's new Denied 2 report, which tracks intervention requests submitted by patients after applications for exit permits had been turned down or continuously delayed. PHRI's data confirms prior trends of arbitrariness in the granting of exit permits, more restrictive policies, and continued interrogation of patients as a prerequisite for having exit permits consideredpolicies and practices which violate the right to health.
MAP logo

Breast Cancer in Occupied Palestine

Medical Aid for Palestinians ran a campaign in conjunction with Physicians for Human Rights - Israel to highlight the obstacles to treatment and care faced by Palestinian women with breast cancer. Women living in Gaza are particularly affected by restrictions on the right to movement, shortages of chemotherapy medicines, and shortcomings of a health system depleted by blockade, conflict, and economic crisis—making breast cancer the highest cause of cancer deaths among Palestinian women.
Watchlist logo

Impact of Attacks on Health in Afghanistan on Children

Between October 30 and November 15, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict conducted field research in Afghanistan on attacks on health care and their impact on children. Watchlist interviewed a wide range of international and local nongovernmental organizations that provide health care in conflict-affected provinces, as well as UN agencies that monitor and report on attacks. The research will be published in a Field Monitor report (Watchlist’s flagship publication) in February 2017.
SOS logo

The Averted Health Burden at MSF Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Prior to its Closure

In October 2015, a US airstrike hit the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan. MSF and coalition member Surgeons Over Seas (SOS) report on the care provided by the hospital to the local population prior to its destruction. Its absence will be critically felt by those living in northern Afghanistan who now no longer have timely access to essential trauma and surgical care. Access to care for all victims of armed conflict is a human right, they conclude, and we must guarantee special protection for the wounded, sick, and medical personnel and facilities during war.
ACBAR logo

Op-Ed: War on Doctors, War on Healthcare

Throughout Afghanistan, attacks against health facilities and staff have increased and become the norm. In the first half of 2016, UNAMA recorded 64 conflict-related incidents targeting health care and personnel, resulting in 11 civilian casualties, including seven health workers. ACBAR (the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development) along with seven medical NGOs denounce the increasing disrespect of health care and international humanitarian law. The op-ed is part of broader advocacy to protect aid workers in Afghanistan (read briefing paper).
ICN logo

International Council of Nurses Calls for Protection of Healthcare Workers

In a press release, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) called for increased protection of health workers through legislation, zero tolerance policies, security measure, education, and improved working environments. ICN shared its stance at the 5th International Conference on Violence in the Health Sector, the largest global conference dedicated to work-related aggressions and violence within the health sector.
ICN and WMA logos

Physician and Nursing Leaders Condemn Syrian Attacks on Health Personnel

Leaders of the World Medical Association and International Council of Nurses said the persistent and targeted attacks in Syria on doctors, nurses, and other health workers have reached unprecedented levels that should alarm the world. A joint press release stated, “We have an obligation to speak out to urge world leaders to enforce an immediate truce to protect the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims caught up in this carnage.
Defenders for Medical Impartiality logo

Doctors under Attack: Systematic Violations of Medical Impartiality in Yemen, Syria, and Egypt

Defenders for Medical Impartiality organized a panel event, “Doctors under Attack: Systematic Violations of Medical Impartiality in Yemen, Syria, and Egypt,” that was held in parallel to the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The event was co-sponsored by the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition.
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The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition promotes the security of health workers and services threatened by war or civil unrest. We monitor attacks on and threats to civilian health; strengthen universal norms of respect for the right to health; demand accountability for perpetrators; and empower providers and civil society groups to be champions for their right to health.
Copyright © 2016 Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition/IntraHealth International, All rights reserved.

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