It’s 2 am in Kunduz, a city in the north of Afghanistan. It’s Saturday, October 3rd, but it’s a day just like the others in this land which has never experienced peace in years. There is though a little oasis of peace: a small hospital. Here doctors from the NGO “Doctors without borders”, coming from all Nations, take care of all kind of patients as the Hippocratic Oath asked them many years ago (“Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient […]whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free”).
It’s 2:08 am and they are sleeping when the first bomb drops on their head. It’s just the beginning of a series of bombs which will last till 3:15 am. Smoke and flames are everywhere, patients are screaming and those who can’t move are burning in their beds. Everybody is running trying to find a safe place. But is there a safe spot in this world if even an hospital can be attacked?
That night 12 doctors and 10 patients lost their lives, among which 3 were kids. 37 were injured.
I think we owe this people an answer: who attacked them? Why? How will he pay?
To the first question we already have an answer: the air strike was led by the US army. This news hurts twice: first because there’s no apparent reason for what it was described as a very precise attack, secondly because it comes from a supposed ally.
Why this happened? Well we still don’t know the exact reasons. The head of the Afghanistan Ministry of Defence said that the hospital was attacked since it was hiding “armed terrorists” willing to attack both Afghani army and civilians. Médecins sans frontierès (MSF) immediately denied this version, while J.F. Campbell, head of the US forces, publicly announced that the air strike was requested by Afghani authorities which claimed to be under the Taleban fire in that area. Killing civilians was just an “accident”. Whether it was an accident or something done on purpose it has to be discovered with a proper investigation. While the press is already showing lack of interest in pursuing the news, the NGO is asking for just one simple thing: a complete, transparent and independent investigation. MSF deserve to know exactly what happened, with no distortion and no omissions.
But as a Law student I found very hard to believe that someone will be held responsible for this massacre. Even though everyone agrees what happened is a crime of war, the International Law doesn’t give enough instruments to find the convicted and actually punish him. And even if we found him, how will he pay for his crime? With his life, his freedom or his money? None of this it’s enough. More likely the US army can be held responsible for what happened, but we must remember that the USA (along with China and Israel) didn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, so the ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction on their citizens.
The outcome is that 22 people died and it’s very unlikely that they’ll have justice in a proper time.
I am lucky enough to have some friends who are in Med-school. They are the kindest, bravest and most generous people I know. I admire them because in a world full of cowards they still find the strength to embrace in their arms people’s lives and hopes. They made the decision to live a life full of adventures and sorrows and I am so grateful for them. And yes, they might be a little monothematic (guys, last time I checked there isn’t any law against, so you may actually consider to talk about something else other than medicine) but they are the ones who will save our lives.
So that’s why when I first read the news about the bomb on the MSF hospital I was shocked. I thought that inside there could be one of my friends. That night we lost people who not only were brave enough to chose the life of a doctor, but who also decided to work in dangerous areas in order to provide medical care to everyone on this planet.
The least we can do is never forget them. Thank you for being where we weren’t brave enough to be. Thank you.
Thank you for reading