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ICRC partners FG on protection of Healthcare in Conflict Zones

Deputy Head of Delegation Operation ICRC in Nigeria Doris El Douiehy

Statistics from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) indicate that between 2016 and 2020, about 4000 cases of attacks and obstruction on healthcare delivery services were recorded in 33 countries, including Nigeria.

Two-thirds of the incidences are in Africa and the Middle East, with Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, the occupied territories of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza and Syria taking the lead.

According to the ICRC report, key incidents that have been recorded include cases where patients were killed, wounded, beaten up and arrested as well as other cases wherein health care workers have been threatened and physically assaulted.

These cases occurred despite the provisions of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law protecting the wounded and sick as well as the health care system.

Worried by the situation in Nigeria, where violence is constituting additional setbacks in the health care system, the ICRC has been collaborating with the Federal Government to look into the country’s domestic situation; hence the convening of a second round of meetings between the Red Cross and the Ministry of Health. 

The Head of ICRC Delegation in Nigeria, Yann Bozon said the organisation held the first meeting in 2017 and 15 recommendations were brought forth to be actively pursued by actors in the health care arena.

Mr Bozon, Represented by the Deputy Head operation, ICRC, Doris el Douiehy, explained that the second meeting was aimed at discussing the outcome of the first meeting with a view to considering the next line of action.

The Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire said the Federal Government was committed to implementing the recommendations in order to create an enabling environment for health workers in crisis-prone areas.

The Head of Health Care Initiative, Geneva, Maciej Polkowsi, expressed the hope that the outcome of the meeting would be practicable to help address the challenges of health care providers as well as their patients in dangerous situations.

Reporting by Hadiza Abdulrahman, editing by Daniel Adejo