ICRC records almost 3,800 attacks on health care workers

Health care providers, including physiotherapists, and patients have experienced thousands of attacks on health care systems, according to data recorded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in countries/territories affected by conflict and other emergencies.

The ICRC counted 3,780 attacks during the five years between 2016 and 2020, in an average of 33 countries for each of those years. The attacks have taken place since the UN Security Council demanded an end to impunity for such incidents.

The attacks faced by health care workers, wounded and ill people included murder, rape, physical abuse, looting and the destruction of medical facilities and medical transport vehicles. Obstruction of health care services – such as a vaccination campaign prevented from doing its work or an ambulance prevented from passing a check-point – were also recorded.

Peter Maurer, ICRC president, said: "The world has failed to make protecting the sick, the dying and injured a priority. Health care is at the forefront of current global attention, yet not enough is being done to protect health care workers and medical facilities.

"Sadly, with each attack, more people are prevented from seeking out the health care they desperately need. Weapon bearers must respect the universal value of and right to health care enshrined in international humanitarian law."

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