Yves Daccord Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Robert Dempfer Head of Social Policy Unit, Austrian Red Cross
Yves Daccord ICRC
Alistair Dutton Humanitarian Director, Caritas Internationalis
Jasveen Ahluwalia Gender in Emergencies Coordinator, CARE
Conflict and armed violence take more and more space in urban and populated settings. When the fighting starts, access to health care becomes a vital issue for people who are sick or wounded. Often access is delayed or made impossible by endless obstruction such as an ambulance held up at a checkpoint.
Many conflicts have generated discrimination against people who are trying to access health care, based on their ethnic or religious origin. This goes straight to the heart of medical ethics: you don’t ask wounded people which side, ethnic group or religious confession they are from when they are losing blood. You just treat them, period.
In rural areas, additional obstacles to health care claim many lives where lack of safety and conflict prevail: lack of transport, looting of health centres, among others.
Violence preventing the delivery of health care is primarily a security rather than a health problem. It is vital to engage with the military, with armed groups, with States, with the health community, with the Red Cross and Red Crescent partners and other non-governmental partners to find practical solutions to this important humanitarian concern.
Wars are bad enough; let’s at least ensure that all measures are taken to minimize the negative impact on people needing health care.