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The AMA Federal Council has adopted the World Medical Association’s WMA Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence as formal AMA policy. The Regulations outline the duties of doctors working in armed conflict and other situations of violence and address the obligations of Governments, armed forces, and others in positions of power to allow health care personnel to fulfil their ethical duties to care for the sick and wounded, and to provide protection for health care personnel and facilities such as hospitals.
In the early hours of Sunday, March 24th, 2013, rebels in the Central African Republic seized the capital Bangui, forcing President Bozize to flee the impoverished and embattled country. The attack was the culmination of a four-month rebellion by a coalition movement called Seleka that caused thousands of civilian deaths or injuries, displaced an estimated 40,000, and left an estimated 1.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
The United States and the international community should take immediate steps to respond to reports of the largest scale usage of chemical weapons in Syria, a group of civil society leaders said today. Numerous reports have indicated that coordinated chemical weapons attacks occurred on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 in the East Ghuta area of the Damascus suburbs in Syria, reportedly killing up to 1300 and injuring tens of thousands more.
World Humanitarian Day is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those who continue to work for humanitarian causes. It is also an occasion to draw attention to the fact that health-care personnel are often among the first to be attacked in war and other situations of violence. As a result, untold numbers of people are deprived of the care they need. This is currently one of the most serious and pressing issues of humanitarian concern.
On a street leading to the besieged Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp, several doctors set up a makeshift ward on the pavement. Paving stones became pillows. Car covers became beds. Instead of medicine, all the doctors could offer were cartons of fruit juice bought en masse from a nearby kiosk. And all the while, rapid gunfire was heard hitting walls around the corner. The wounded were hurried over at a rate of one every minute.
War, by its very nature, is expected to cause injuries and deaths. But in Syria, human rights groups and others with first-hand knowledge about the conflict there say the extent of mass killings, torture, and other atrocities associated with the 2-year civil war has reached horrific levels. Among the 23 million residents of Syria, nearly 93 000 had been killed as of June and nearly 5 million have fled their homes, some to nearby countries.
Doctors and other healthcare workers in Turkey, and the facilities in which they work, are facing sustained and intense attacks for treating patients injured during the current civil unrest in the country. By providing emergency assistance to the injured, medical workers in Turkey are fulfilling their duty under the International Code of Medical Ethics. Had they not done so, they would have risked international condemnation, faced professional disciplinary proceedings, and violated the Turkish penal code.
For Dr. Qasem al Zein, the revolution began with a feeling of hope. “Even before the Syrian revolution, in the beginning of the Arab Spring, I was happy and wished it would reach us,” he told filmmaker Amal Saloum. “The Syrian people suffered oppression and tyranny more than any other people in the world. So I expected the people to take to the streets.” Saloum filmed Dr. Qasem at work in the city of Al Qusair, several months before the long siege that has brought it back under the control of the government in recent weeks.
In a conflict zone, getting the basics — food, water, shelter — is a constant challenge. And it likely involves being on the move. Now imagine pregnancy. There might not be a functioning medical facility for miles. And the environment makes the woman and her baby more susceptible to complications.