Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is commonly known in the United States as “Doctors Without Borders”, wants an investigation to be conducted on the deadly bombing of its hospital located in Kunduz, Afghanistan by the United States. MSF is calling this destruction a crime of war.
The United States has already accepted responsibility for the attack, which it says was a mistake.
The hospital was reportedly being attacked by Taliban fighters, who were essentially using the building as a human shield. As per their philosophy, MSF staff had to treat anyone who was injured, regardless of what side of the conflict they were on. The United States attacked the hospital in an effort to flush out Taliban forces.
The charitable organization will inquire more into the matter before deciding whether or not to file criminal charges. The attack left thousands of Afghans unable to access medical care.
MSF International President Joanne Liu said, “If we let this go, as if was a non-event, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries who are at war. If we don't safeguard that medical space for us to do our activities, then it is impossible to work in other contexts like Syria, South Sudan, like Yemen."
Meanwhile, the executive director of MSF for the United States Jason Cone requested that the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission be activated for this investigation. The commission has never been activated since its establishment in 1991. Both the United States and Afghanistan are not signatory members of the commission. Their consent would normally be required to activate the commission.
Cone said of activating the commission, “Doing so will send a powerful signal of the U.S. government's commitment to and respect for international humanitarian law under rules of war.”
Liu is particularly outraged by the attack.
She stated, “Our patients burned in their beds, MSF doctors nurses, and other staff were killed as they worked. Our colleagues had to operate on each other.”
The airstrike reportedly killed 22 people, 12 of whom were MSF staff.
Officials in the United States are also looking into the incident.
United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, “We are conducting a full and transparent investigation and will make the findings of that investigation known as they are found and will hold accountable anyone responsible for conduct that was improper."
Liu says that she wants an independent investigation to take place because accounts from the United States and Afghanistan were differing in nature.
"We cannot rely on internal investigations by U.S, NATO and Afghan forces," she stated.
Officials from the United Nations have already condemned the attack. However, they said that they would wait for the results for current investigations before deciding whether or not to establish an independent examination.
MSF officials are not ruling out the possibility of criminal charges.
Lead attorney of MSF Francoise Saulnier said, “We don't know what will be the next step. We don't want to eliminate any option."