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As chair of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, Leonard Rubenstein outlines eight concrete steps states can take now—on their own and through UN bodies—to protect health workers and the sanctity of health care. His statement was given at a UN General Assembly side event on September 22, 2017.

At the UN Human Rights Council. Canada joined countries calling for an international commission of inquiry into abuses in the armed conflict in Yemen. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, some amounting to war crimes, have killed thousands of civilians and hit schools and hospitals.

The abduction, arrest, and killing of thousands of health care workers, as well as the destruction of and damage to hospitals and clinics, have profound impacts on the health and well-being of populations for years and even decades to come.

To advance international efforts to protect health care in conflict areas, UN Missions of Canada, the Netherlands, Spain​, and the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria and Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, are organizing a side event during UNGA 72.

The Special Rapporteur on the right to health for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spoke at a side event on September 12, 2017 at the Human Rights Council and emphasized that attacks on and interference with health care constitute one of the primary impediments to the realization of the right to health.
health worker in South Sudan

Health workers are supposed to save lives and health facilities are supposed to be safe places for health and healing. They’re protected by the rules of war, but are still being attacked.
ATHA logo

Many humanitarian aid workers risk their lives to help others. Humanitarian aid organizations, UN member states, and the UN Security Council should take these immediate actions to protect them. Read this statement by the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA).

The United Nations should name and shame countries that fail to protect health workers in war zones, said aid expert Len Rubenstein (the chair of our coalition).

As the number of cholera cases in Yemen reaches half a million, the collapsing health system is struggling to cope. Half of all health facilities in the country are closed, shortages in medicines and supplies are widespread, and 30,000 critical health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year.

The six Red Cross volunteers were taking part in a crisis meeting at a health facility in the south east of the Central African Republic on August 3, 2017. The exact circumstances are not yet clear; however, reports indicate that civilians and medical staff may also have been killed.