Doctors Without Borders presses probe of hospital bombing

Doctors Without Borders presses probe of hospital bombing
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Doctors Without Borders has launched a petition calling for the Obama administration to consent to an investigation by an international commission into a hospital bombing that killed 22 civilians.

“The preservation of health facilities as neutral, protected spaces depends on this,” the charity, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), wrote in the petition. “If not for the recognition of these principles, MSF and other humanitarian organizations could not work in conflict zones and other places rife with violence. We could not deliver the medical care so many people so desperately need.”

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More than 3,000 people have signed, within a few hours of the petition’s launch.

The petition comes a day after the charity and the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission said the commission offered its services to the United States and Afghanistan.

The commission, set up under the Geneva Conventions in 1991 to investigate breaches of international humanitarian law, needs both countries to consent before it carries out an investigation.

Three investigations are underway by the Pentagon, NATO and Afghan officials. U.S. officials, including President Obama in a personal apology to Doctors Without Borders, have promised the investigations will be transparent.

But Doctors Without Borders remains unconvinced.

“It is impossible to expect the parties involved in the conflict to carry out independent and impartial investigations of acts in which they themselves are implicated,” it wrote in the petition.

On Oct. 3, the United States carried out the airstrike in Kunduz. The strike killed 12 Doctors Without Borders staff members and 10 patients. 

U.S. officials have said the strike was requested by Afghan forces under fire from the Taliban and that the hospital was hit by mistake.