U.S. Bombs D.W.B. Clinic
by Navpreet Sekhon on Friday, October 16th, 2015
On October 3rd, Doctors Without Borders, an organization founded in France that aims to provide medical services under any circumstance for countries all around the world, suffered from a United States airstrike on one of their hospitals in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
Doctors Without Borders is a non-profit, unbiased medical organization working to help people in dangerous areas; consequently, it is hard to imagine such a peaceful group being the target of a bombing that left twenty-two dead and many more injured or missing. This event raised various questions about how it could have possibly happened, who is to blame, and how Doctors Without Borders will move forward.
According to the New York Times, the bombing reportedly began around 2 a.m. and continued for over an hour. Around forty-five minutes into the bombing, the hospital contacted both the U.S. and Afghan governments informing them that the hospital was being bombed, but the airstrike continued for another thirty minutes afterwards. This unusual miscommunication between the gunship and both governments has led many to speculate whether or not this was truly an accident. Solace Mensah-Narh (II) has a hard time trusting it was an accident, but does not “understand what would motivate [the bombing].” On the other hand, Jonah Garnick (III) believes “we [should not] speculate as to whether this action was intentional until an objective investigation has been conducted.” Mr. Larry Pollans, a long-time history teacher, argued that discovering the bombing was an intentional attack on the hospital “would be a worst case scenario; it’s hard to believe that that would have happened.”
Both the Afghan and American governments are conducting internal investigations, but Doctors Without Borders representative Jason Cone told NPR news that the company requested the help of International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. The Geneva Conventions created the Fact-Finding Commission to conduct unbiased investigation to allow full disclosure of what really happened when a mistake like this occurs, and Cone wants it be used now. Jonah fully agreed with the call for an external investigation, as it would “ensure full objectivity.” However, Mr. Pollans added, “Somebody gave the order, the bomb went out, and it was in the wrong place. So who’s responsible?” He goes further to explain how quickly decisions are made during wartime; not all orders are thoroughly fact-checked, and that can lead to many errors. Except, this mistake has intervened with the laws of the Geneva Conventions, hence the call for the external investigation.
While waiting for the investigation to conclude, what can the governments do to help the people of Kunduz and Doctors Without Borders? Both Solace and Mr. Pollans agreed financial help is necessary. Solace admitted while “money won’t repay lives lost it is a step in the right direction.” Mr. Pollans acknowledged even if there were a miscommunication of GPS coordinates from the Afghani government, “We’re still dropping the bomb and we’re still responsible. So I think that we owe big time on this.” But, with the major loss, what will Doctors Without Borders do?
The organization reported the main building of the hospital was entirely lost, but all other buildings and the surrounding neighborhood were pretty much unscathed. Still, many citizens lament the lost of the only nearby hospital where they can be cared for no matter which “side” they are on.
There are various responses to Doctors Without Borders official announcement of its plan to leave Kunduz. Solace admits the staff comprehends what they are getting themselves into when they join the organization, but she knows “it’s right for them to want to leave.” Mr. Pollans recognized, “It would be fair, but it would be a terrible shame. The United States should have doubled our efforts to help them stay.”
As for how life in Kunduz will continue without the hospital, Jonah predicts that “since Afghanistan is a war-torn region, the Afghans will go back to as usual, as they’ve for the past few decades.”
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