Attacks on health care facilities, personnel and medical transports have increased significantly in conflict zones in recent years. Armed groups are believed to be responsible for about a third of all such incidents of violence worldwide. Injuring and killing medical personnel and their patients or using hospitals for military purposes prevents medical personnel from caring for those in need and leads to a sharp decrease in access to healthcare in conflict zones, where it is most needed. Even though relevant international norms exist and are applicable to all parties to conflicts, engaging armed groups towards respecting them is a real challenge and a necessity.
Geneva Call is now taking action by launching its fourth Deed of Commitment on protecting health care in armed conflict to: i) ensure, maintain and provide access for affected populations to essential health care facilities, goods and services, without adverse distinction; and ii) facilitate the provision of health care by impartial humanitarian organisations. This Deed will not only enable armed groups to commit to respecting the relevant humanitarian norms on the protection of health care, but also to being held publicly accountable for their commitment. Thanks to this tool, we hope to work towards a future where seeking or providing health care will no longer mean risking one’s life!
The Deed of Commitment was officially launched at an event in Geneva on Thursday 22 November 2018, with the presence of speakers from Médecins sans Frontières, the ICRC, the World Health Organization and the Republic and Canton of Geneva.