A new report released by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) shows that healthcare continues to be attacked, impeding the delivery of essential health services and injuring and killing patients and healthcare workers.
The report, Impunity Remains: Attacks on Health Care in 23 Countries in Conflict in 2018 is the sixth annual report from the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition and documents nearly 1,000 violations of the international humanitarian laws and United Nations resolutions designed to protect health workers in conflict zones in 2018. Such violations led to the deaths of 167 health workers and more than 700 injuries to staff who were only there to help the sick, injured and dying.
The ICN condemned unreservedly all attacks on nurses and midwives who are working in conflict zones, whose sole aim is to provide care, treatment and comfort to the sick, injured and dying, and called on all governments and other combatants to uphold the international laws that protect health workers.
Responding to the report ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said:
‘This report is shocking and everyone who reads it will be horrified by its tragic findings.’
‘Nurses are a force for good, providing impartial care based on their code of ethics. Their protection is an emblem of our humanity that should protect and respect nurses wherever they are delivering care and attention to the needy.’
‘Nurses provide help to all sides in war zones, and to the innocents who have been targeted or caught in the crossfire.’
‘Yet nurses and midwives were among the at least 167 health workers who were killed and the 710 who were injured in 2018.’
‘This report details how nurses and other health workers have been brutally attacked with knives, clubs, firearms, shells, bombs and fire. They have been intimidated, kidnapped, sexually assaulted and raped. They have been murdered. And sadly, their patients have suffered the same fates.’
‘Such attacks cause immediate suffering and death. But they also deprive populations of access to healthcare because facilities are closed, infrastructure is damaged, and NGOs and other providers have to withdraw their staff after attacks.’
‘They make it harder to tackle outbreaks of diseases, including the Ebola virus, they interfere with urgent life-saving interventions and they impede vaccination programmes.’
‘Ceasing these unwarranted attacks will make the world a better, safer place for us all.’