On 3 November 2015, MSF SARA and MSF India organised a remembrance ceremony to remember and honour our colleagues and patients who lost their lives in the Kunduz tragedy. This was a part of the series of remembrance events MSF will be holding worldwide.
The ceremony started with two minutes of silence for those who lost their lives in the tragedy and was followed by a short film depicting the devastation in the hospital after the airstrikes on 3 October 2015.
Md. Sayed Baqir, MSF SARA focal point from Afghanistan, expressed his grief over the incident. He said that it is indeed tragic that we have also lost two of our SARA members. Dr Chanjiv Singh, President, MSF SARA,spoke on behalf of SARA and expressed his condolences.
Farhat Mantoo, Head of HR, speaking on behalf of staff in the region,said the incident must be recognised for what it was – abnormal. Jean Michel, International Board member and liaison for SARA, said that such attacks are disturbing and an independent investigation is the need of hour.
Martin Sloot, General Director, MSF India, and representatives from OCA, OCB and OCBA also expressed their sentiments about the incident. All of them strongly demanded an independent investigation and expressed a deep concern for the victims and their families. They demanded the respect of health staff, health structures and patients granted by International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in conflicts.Dr Unni Karunakara, MSF Holland board member, said that the attack on Kunduz hospital is actually an attack on the global humanitarian space.
The ceremony concluded with a vote of thanks from Dr Sunita Abraham, Vice- President, MSF SARA.
Background: MSF has demanded an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission, part of the Geneva Conventions. The current emphasis of MSF is on knowing what happened and why it happened. The aspiration is to make the process a reaffirmation of the vital need for respect of the Geneva Conventions, for the sake of populations trapped in wars, because their ability to access medical assistance depends on how far medical care is respected by armed groups. The attack on Kunduz is an attack on the Geneva Conventions.
The hospital in Kunduz (a trauma centre) was opened by MSF in 2011. In 2014 alone, more than 22,000 patients received care at the hospital and more than 5,900 surgeries were performed. At the time of the attack 80 MSF staff were in the hospital grounds, along with patient caretakers.
The MSF hospital was the only fully functional, free-of-charge health care facility in Kunduz during the fighting over the last months. The bombing of Kunduz marked an end to medical care for the civilians and injured combatants in Kunduz. It deprived people of medical care exactly when they needed it most. The population of Kunduz is around 300,000.