Health and humanitarian workers in war zones are facing unabated and increasing attacks “and the impact on civilians is nothing but catastrophic”, says the president of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Peter Maurer told an informal United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday that three years after the council adopted a landmark resolution urging all countries to take action to prevent violence and threats against medical and aid workers, “the evidence of meaningful change on the ground is scarce”.
“The taboo that warring parties would not attack aid workers has been trashed,” he said. “We need strong leadership, political will and determined action to restore this taboo.”
Maurer said health services in conflict “must be protected in a neutral humanitarian space and not be part of military strategies to defeat the adversary.”
He added that “rhetoric and practices which exclude adversaries – for example those labelled ‘terrorists’ – from basic health services must stop” and “public health regulations must not be tainted by political and military considerations”.