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Gunmen have killed two anti-polio health workers in north-west Pakistan, police said on Sunday, in the latest violence directed at efforts to eradicate the endemic disease from the country. Two attackers shot the Pakistani health workers, who were on a vaccination drive in Kandar village, said Swabi district police chief, Mohammad Saeed. The gunmen arrived on foot and later disappeared, he added. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But some militant groups oppose the vaccinations and accuse the workers of spying for the US.
Never having been to Syria, or to an active conflict zone, it is hard for me to fully imagine the types of atrocities that have occurred over the past year. I write this blog post from my comfortable air-conditioned office in downtown Washington DC, and I cannot fully fathom the horrific conditions that Syrians face each day living through a civil war. The graphic images and tear-inducing stories of families being torn apart, children dying in the crossfire, and injured civilians unable to seek proper medical care are hard to digest. The US Government and the international community are faced with a challenging decision of whether or not to intervene with the efforts of the Syrian rebels to oppose the Assad regime.
Zaher Sahloul from the Syrian American Medical Society talks with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beverly Kirk about the dangers that medical personnel in Syria are facing in the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Whether it’s health facilities being used to identify and apprehend enemies, or ambulances blocked from accessing the wounded, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) strongly condemn any act that deliberately aims to distort medical action and to deny healthcare to the sick and wounded.
Three suicide bombers stormed the office of the International Red Cross in Jalabad, Afghanistan earlier today and at least one guard has been killed. No one has so far claimed responsibility, but al-Qaeda has targeted the group in the past whereas the Taliban has not, according to the Wall Street Journal. The incident follows an attack by the Taliban last Friday on the Kabul headquarters of the International Organization for Migration.
Two health workers giving polio vaccines to children were shot dead in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, prompting the World Health Organisation to suspend its operations in the area. Anti-polio workers started being attacked after a Pakistani doctor, Shakeel Afridi, ran a fake polio campaign in the city of Abbottabad to help the United States track down Osama bin Laden, according to a senior health official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the latest killings happened.
In her address to the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 20, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan spoke about the “deeply troubled times” we live in and referenced “assaults on health personnel and health care facilities in conflict situations,” which the World Health Organization condemns “in the strongest possible terms.”
Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and newly appointed UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, has received the 2013 International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) Health and Human Rights Award. Formally presented at the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia, the award bestows the esteem and recognition of the world’s 12 million nurses for Robinson’s outstanding contributions to the domain of health and human rights.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, condemning human rights violations by Syria. The resolution makes note of attacks on hospitals and stating that the UN “Strongly condemns all attacks and threats of violence against humanitarian and medical personnel and against medical facilities and vehicles, in violation of international law, and the use of medical civilian facilities, including hospitals, for armed purposes, and calls for all medical facilities to be free of weapons, including heavy weapons, consistent with applicable international law.”