Persecution of Health Workers
Background: Health workers, including physicians and nurses, are trained to respond to those in need without prejudice or discrimination. The principle of medical neutrality exists to protect health workers and facilities from attacks or misuse in times of armed conflict as physicians, nurses and others respond to the sick and wounded regardless of political affiliations. To violate the principle of medical neutrality is considered a crime by the Geneva Conventions.
However, serious violations of medical neutrality are occurring far too often in today’s world:
• In Bahrain, forensic evidence has proven government attacks on physicians, staff, patients and unarmed civilians with weapons ranging from rubber bullets to chemical agents.
• In Iran, authorities detained brother physicians Drs. Alaei without charge for their work in the field of HIV/AIDS. In large part through PHR’s work, they were both released; this process took nearly three years.
• In Syria, a conflict between government and rebel forces beginning in 2011 has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. To date, nearly 400 healthcare facilities attacks have occurred and over 750 medical personnel have been killed.
1. Experience the personal story of a Syrian physician and medical student who works in the Middle East to better understand the challenges associated with providing care in war-torn areas of the world. Video above: Link here.
2. Explore PHR’s Anatomy of a Crisis map of attacks on health care in Syria. This interactive experience gives you an in-depth look at specific attacks and situations. Click here.
3. Urge the U.S. government to do its part in ending the suffering of Syrian refugees by granting them asylum.
1. Persecution of Health Workers. Physicians for Human Rights. Accessed at http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/issues/persecution-ofhealth-workers/.
2. UN Documents: Geneva Convention. Accessed at http://www.un-documents.net/gc-1.htm.