Attacks against health care are unacceptable and must stop

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Two years after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2286 on the protection of the medial mission, Norway continue to strengthen its efforts to prevent, document and respond to attacks on health care in armed conflict.

Attacks on hospitals, ambulances, patients and health workers in armed conflict are a serious humanitarian problem. Such attacks constitute a violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), hinder implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and deprive those most in need of access to essential health services. Yet, more than 300 attacks against health care took place in 2017 alone, resulting in nearly 500 casualties, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), who has been collecting data on such attacks since 2012.

- We cannot allow violations of the fundamental rules of war to continue. We have a shared responsibility to prevent, document and respond to attacks against health care, says Hans Brattskar, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.

Two years ago today, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2286 on the protection of the medical mission. The resolution strongly condemns attacks against medical facilities, the wounded and the sick, as well as against medical and humanitarian personnel. It also urges all States and other parties to armed conflict to develop effective measures to prevent and address such attacks.

Norway has called for the full implementation of this resolution, in line with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General, in various diplomatic forums in Geneva and New York. Norway has raised this issue in the UN Security Council, the World Health Assembly, and in the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN. Additionally, in 2014, Norway co-lead the efforts to adopt a resolution on the protection of health workers in the UN General Assembly.

Norway has supported the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Norwegian Red Cross to prevent, document and respond to attacks on health care for several years. Recognizing the need to strengthen data collection efforts in this area, Norway moreover announced a contribution of 1 million NOK to WHO’s Attacks on Health Care-project at a pledging conference last month.