‘US Air Force destroyed our hospital senselessly’, Doctors Without Borders says


This 3 October 2015 video, from the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in England, is called Video shows the bombed Kunduz hospital which claimed 50 lives.

The introduction to a report by MSF/Doctors Without Borders says:

5 November 2015

Public release of initial MSF internal review

Hospitals have protected status under the rules of war. And yet in the early hours of 3 October, the MSF hospital in Kunduz came under relentless and brutal aerial attack by US forces.

Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC-130 gunship while fleeing the burning building. At least 30 MSF staff and patients were killed.

This week, MSF concluded an initial review of the facts before, during and in the aftermath of the airstrikes. Although our internal review is an ongoing process, we have decided to share these initial outcomes with the public, to counter speculation and to be transparent. Details that could identify individuals have been removed. Explanatory footnotes have been added in places where an external reader may need additional clarification.

This is the view from inside the hospital. What we lack is the view from outside the hospital – what happened within the military chains of command.

The facts compiled in this review confirm our initial observations: the MSF trauma centre was fully functioning as a hospital with 105 patients admitted and surgeries ongoing at the time of the US airstrikes; the MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the ‘no weapons’ policy; MSF was in full control of the hospital before and at the time of the airstrikes; there were no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity of the trauma centre before the airstrikes.

What we know is that we were running a hospital treating patients, including wounded combatants from both sides – this was not a ‘Taliban base.’

The question remains as to whether our hospital lost its protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack – and if so, why. The answer does not lie within the MSF hospital. Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the airstrikes hold these answers.

We know that there were many different forces fighting in the area around our hospital: special forces, regular army, police and the armed opposition. Each of these forces may have been operating according to different understandings or interpretations of how international humanitarian law applies to medical work in war. Any ambiguity has deadly consequences for our ability to work on frontlines.

What we demand is simple: a functioning hospital caring for patients, such as the one in Kunduz, cannot simply lose its protection and be attacked; wounded combatants are patients and must be free from attack and treated without discrimination; medical staff should never be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants.

On 7 October 2015, MSF launched a call for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission. Although the IHFFC has made itself available for an investigation, the United States and Afghan Governments have yet to consent to this request. Consenting to the IHFFC is a critical step in demonstrating a commitment to the Geneva Conventions. Today, we are handing over this internal report to both the public and the IHFFC.

The attack on our hospital in Kunduz destroyed our ability to treat patients at a time when we were needed the most.

We need a clear commitment that the act of providing medical care will never make us a target. We need to know whether the rules of war still apply.

Signed,

Dr Joanne Liu, MSF International President

While spelling out the carnage inflicted upon wounded men, women and children as well as doctors, nurses and other medical staff that day, the report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the attack was neither an accident nor a case of “collateral damage,” but rather a deliberate war crime ordered by the Pentagon to further US military objectives in Afghanistan: here.

See also here.

Send Afghan war refugees back, to their deaths, German minister says


This video about Afghanistan says about itself:

6 Reasons for an Independent Investigation into MSF Kunduz Hospital Bombing

26 October 2015

On the morning of October 3rd 2015, a Doctors Without Borders hospital was bombed in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The United States military has taken responsibility for the attack. Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is demanding the activation of the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission to partake in an independent investigation on the grounds that bombing a hospital is a war crime under international law. This video is dedicated to that demand, consolidating resources about this event, and with the hopes that more people sign their petition.

MSF’s Petition for an Independent Investigation: here.

All up-to-the-minute MSF statements on the Kunduz bombing: here.

New Articles Published After the Filming of this Video:

– Jason Cone of MSF USA OpEd on the Kunduz strike: here.

– More revelations that the US knew it was bombing a hospital: here.

– US destroys potential evidence: here.

Journalism vs MSF Statements

– This NYT story shows how much an independent investigation is needed, without ever stating that nor quoting MSF: here.

– The ever-changing US story on the bombing (keep in mind those changes have continued): here.

– Another article from Spencer Ackerman on the changing story: here.

NOS TV in the Netherlands writes today about German Minister of the Interior De Maizière (translated):

Afghans

De Maizière also said that among the refugees there are more and more Afghans, middle class and often young. He called this situation unacceptable and emphasized that they hardly have a chance of asylum.

Moreover, they are badly needed in their own countries for reconstruction, said De Maizière. He said he has also discussed this issue with the Afghan government.

In the closed-minded view of De Maizière and his ilk, whenever NATO soldiers invade some country, that country miraculously becomes a ‘safe country’. No matter how many hospitals or girls’ schools these NATO armed forces bomb.

If the Taliban will not kill these forcibly returned refugees, then ISIS will kill them. Or else, pro-Kabul government warlords cum druglords. Or else, the United States air force, like in Kunduz. Or NATO soldiers from other countries, including Mr De Maizière’s Germany.

In Brussels on Sunday, the leaders of 10 European Union and three non-EU states agreed a 17-point plan to control the movement of refugees on the so-called Balkan route in order to block them from entering Europe and send them back to their countries of origin: here.

The German government is making plans to send another 100 troops to Afghanistan, raising the size of its deployed force to 980 personnel. These plans were reported last week in a blog post by military journalist Thomas Wiegold, who cited sources within the government: here.

Afghanistan war: Britain turning away majority of refugees fleeing conflict despite sending troops to Helmand/ Charities criticised the figures as British troops are sent back to Helmand province: here.

105-year-old Afghan woman’s flight from Kunduz to Sweden


Bibihal Uzbeki in a refugee camp in Croatia, photo: AP

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

105-year-old Afghan woman from Croatia on her way to Sweden

Bibihal Uzbeki will not live there for many years, but her goal is Sweden. Together with her son of 67, her grandson of 19 and fifteen family members she is heading to the northern European country. Bibihal Uzbeki according to her documents is 105 years old.

In the refugee camp in Croatia, she was interviewed by a reporter from The Associated Press. Her papers are verified by the Croatian police. She is indeed as old as her papers say, says her grandson. There is no independent source.

All the luck in the world

“My legs hurt, but everything else is fine,” she says. Three weeks ago she left from Kunduz, the Afghan city where Dutch a few years ago were training the police and which was taken a few weeks ago by the Taliban. Since then, her home town is again a battleground in the Afghan civil war.

Including the bombing of the only hospital by the United States air force.

During her flight, Bibihal is sometimes carried by her son or her grandson. They have had many problems and she fell several times. “I have scars on my head,” she says. Her hands tremble as she speaks.

Shortly after the interview with the journalist her grandson carries Bibihal to the train, heading for the next stop in Slovenia. The Red Cross in Croatia wishes the family “all the luck in the world.”

Afghan hospital bombing was not a ‘mistake’, Doctors Without Borders say


This video says about itself:

Doctors Without Borders“: In a bombed hospital in Kunduz burned children alive (06.10.15)

Among those killed in the shelling of the hospital of the international organization “Doctors without Borders» (MSF) in the Afghan Kunduz were children who were burned alive during the air strike, said a member of the organization’s leadership, the president of the operations center for MSF in Brussels Maini Nicholas. “On Saturday morning [the United States air force] began bombing the hospital by air. It lasted more than an hour. There have been several approaches, several planes flew and shot at the hospital. The shelling affected the main building, where the intensive care unit, ambulance and physiotherapy, which was a lot of employees [were hit] ” she said, reports RIA Novosti.

According to the organization, the air bombardment of the hospital started early on Saturday morning. As a result of falling shells in the central building of the hospital a fire started.

“The staff ran out to the street when the building caught fire. Later, we sadly noted that 10 patients died. Six of them were in the intensive care unit and could not leave the building. Some of them were burned alive in their beds, and among them were children. Also killed 12 employees of “Doctors without Borders”. A total of 22 dead and 37 wounded, “she said.

“We do not know the whereabouts of the staff and whether they are alive … A few people left (Kunduz), but we do not know where they are. Because the situation there – it’s chaos” she said.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghanistan: US’s hospital attack was no ‘error’ – MSF

Monday 19th october 2015

Charity chief slams deliberate and deadly strafing by gunship

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS (MSF) has rejected US claims that its attack on an Afghan hospital was made in error.

MSF general director Christopher Stokes said in an Associated Press interview that the “extensive, quite precise destruction” of the bombing raid casts doubt on US military assertions.

Mr Stokes said the attack on October 3 that killed 22 patients and staff should be investigated as a possible war crime.

In the interview, held outside the burnt-out main hospital building in Kunduz on Friday, Mr Stokes said MSF wanted a “clear explanation because all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law and therefore a war crime.

“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the co-ordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict.

“The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit,” he said.

MSF has said the bombing went on for more than an hour despite calls to Afghan, US and Nato forces. The US gunship made five separate strafing runs in that time.

The attack by the AC-130 — the kind of gunship used in the brutal US war in Vietnam — was ordered as Afghan national army troops were fighting to recapture Kunduz from the Taliban.

Associated Press has reported that US special operations analysts were scrutinising the hospital days before it was destroyed as they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to co-ordinate Taliban activity.

MSF has denied there were any armed Taliban fighters on the hospital grounds at the time of the attack.

“The compound was not entered by Taliban soldiers with weapons,” Mr Stokes said.

“What we have understood from our staff and guards is that there was very strong, very good control of what was happening in and around the compound and they reported no firing in the hours preceding the destruction of the hospital.”

Afghan war refugee killed at Bulgarian border


This video says about itself:

MSF raises death toll from US airstrikes on Kunduz hospital to 24

14 October 2015

Doctors without Borders, MSF has raised to 24 the death toll from the US airstrike on a hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province.

The organization says the death toll was raised as two of its missing staff members are now presumed dead. 22 of MSF staffers who were initially unaccounted for are alive. Doctors without borders is still trying to contact nine patients who went missing following the strikes on October 3. MSF International President Joanne Liu says they are still in the dark about why a medical facility packed with patients was targeted for more than an hour.

Unfortunately, Turkey is not the only country where armed forces kill refugees. In Turkey, it was refugees from the Syrian war. Now, in Bulgaria, a refugee, probably from the Afghan war.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Bulgarian border guards shoot a refugee dead

Today, 07:54

Bulgarian border guards have shot a refugee dead. Presumably it was an Afghan. The man tried along with dozens of other refugees to illegally cross the Turkish-Bulgarian border and the group resisted arrest, says the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior.

The group tried near Sredets town to enter the country, where border guards are said to have fired warning shots. One of the bullets hit the man, who died on his way to hospital. …

There is no other source confirming the version of the Bulgarian government.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) condemned the use of force and appealed to Bulgaria not to treat refugees like criminals.

“We, at UNHCR, are deeply shocked by this incident,” said spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov.

“We deplore the death of an Afghan asylum seeker, trying to reach safety across the border. We call on the Bulgarian authorities to conduct an immediate, transparent and independent investigation. Seeking asylum is an universal human right and not a crime.”

The Black Sea state, which is a member of the EU but not of the border-free Schengen Area, has deployed more border police, installed cameras and motion sensors, and is extending a security fence to cover 100 miles of its border with Turkey.

At least 11,000 asylum seekers have entered Bulgaria since January and the number is expected to reach 15,000 by the end of the year. Most are fleeing Syria and use Bulgaria as a transit route to wealthier countries such as Germany and Sweden.

In recent days, a total of eight refugees have been killed in two separate incidents by border guards at the European Union’s external border with Turkey: here.

‘WHAT I LEARNED WHEN FOUR REFUGEES MOVED IN’ “I asked Marija what she wanted most for herself and her family. She gently grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes: ‘Sophia, all I want is a small room for my family. A table for us to eat together. And a bed for us to share. I didn’t come to Germany to be a millionaire. I came here because I wanted to be allowed to be a human being. To be happy.'”[HuffPost]

United States military in Afghanistan knew their target was a hospital


This video from the USA says about itself:

Doctors Without Borders Hospital Bombed During U.S. Airstrike

5 October 2015

A U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan lead to the death of 22 people at a hospital that was used by Doctors Without Borders. Twelve members of the staff and ten patients were killed. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks discuss.

Read more from The Intercept here.

“In the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least nine of the hospital’s medical staff, and seriously injured dozens of patients. “Among the dead was the Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar,” reported the New York Times.

Jason Cone, MSF’s executive director, said the medical charity “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.” He added that “all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul & Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of MSF facilities in Kunduz,” and that the “precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.”*

From Associated Press:

U.S. Analysts Knew Afghan Site Hit By Air Attack Was A Hospital

At least 22 patients and hospital staff were killed.

By Ken Dilanian

10/15/2015 01:49 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — Days before the Oct. 3 U.S. air attack on a hospital in Afghanistan, American special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on the facility — which they knew was a protected medical site — because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity, The Associated Press has learned.

It’s unclear whether commanders who unleashed the AC-130 gunship on the hospital — killing at least 22 patients and hospital staff — were aware that the site was a hospital or knew about the allegations of possible enemy activity. The Pentagon initially said the attack was to protect U.S. troops engaged in a firefight and has since said it was a mistake.

The special operations analysts had assembled a dossier that included maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance, according to a former intelligence official familiar with the material. …

After the attack — which came amidst a battle to retake the northern Afghan city of Kunduz from the Taliban — some U.S. analysts assessed that the strike had been justified, the former officer says. They concluded that the Pakistani, believed to have been working for his country’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, had been killed.

No evidence has surfaced publicly to support those conclusions about the Pakistani’s connections or his demise. The former intelligence official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The top U.S. officer in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, has said the strike was a mistake, but he has not explained exactly how it happened or who granted final approval. He also told Congress he was ordering all personnel in Afghanistan to be retrained on the rules governing the circumstances under which strikes are acceptable.

The new details about the military’s suspicions that the hospital was being misused complicate an already murky picture and add to the unanswered questions about one of the worst civilian casualty incidents of the Afghan war. They also raise the possibility of a breakdown in intelligence sharing and communication across the military chain of command.

Pentagon officials declined comment.

The international humanitarian agency that ran the facility, Doctors without Borders, has condemned the bombing as a war crime. The organization says the strike killed 12 hospital staff and 10 patients, and that death toll may rise. It insists that no gunmen, weapons or ammunition were in the building. The U.S. and Afghan governments have launched three separate investigations. President Barack Obama has apologized, but Doctors without Borders is calling for an international probe.

Doctors without Borders officials say the U.S. airplane made five separate strafing runs over an hour, directing heavy fire on the main hospital building, which contained the emergency room and intensive care unit. Surrounding buildings were not struck, they said.

Typically, pilots flying air support missions would have maps showing protected sites such as hospitals and mosques. If commanders concluded that enemies were operating from a protected site, they would follow procedures designed to minimize civilian casualties. That would generally mean surrounding a building with troops, not blowing it to bits from the air.

What the new details suggest “is that the hospital was intentionally targeted, killing at least 22 patients and MSF staff,” said Meinie Nicolai, president of the operational directorate of Doctors without Borders, which is also known by its French initials MSF. “This would amount to a premeditated massacre. … Reports like this underscore how critical it is for the Obama administration to immediately give consent to an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to find out how and why U.S. forces attacked our hospital.”

Nicolai said in an email exchange that the group’s staff “reported a calm night and that there were no armed combatants, nor active fighting in or from the compound prior to the airstrikes.”

Doctors without Borders has acknowledged that it treated wounded Taliban fighters at the Kunduz hospital, but it insists no weapons were allowed in. Afghans who worked at the hospital have told the AP that no one was firing from within.

The U.S. military’s cursory description of what transpired has changed over time.

Initially, the military portrayed the incident as an accident stemming from the fog of war. American forces in the vicinity were under attack, a U.S. military spokesperson in Afghanistan said in a statement, and called in an air strike “against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”

Two days later, Campbell told reporters that “Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces.”

He added, “An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck.”

The following day, however, Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “To be clear, the decision … was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command. A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”

Asked about the location of any U.S. troops on the ground, Campbell said, “We had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires.”

His remark did not make clear whether any American on the ground had a direct view of the hospital. Military officials declined to answer questions, citing the investigation.

The intelligence analysts who were gathering information about suspected Taliban activity at the hospital were located in various bases around Afghanistan, and were exchanging information over classified military intelligence systems. Typically, a decision to order a strike in a populated area would require many layers of approval and intelligence analysis of the potential impacts and civilian casualties.

It would be significant if U.S. intelligence had concluded that Pakistani spies were continuing to play an active role helping the Taliban. The U.S. and Afghan governments have long accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban, but U.S. rhetoric on the issue has cooled over the past year as American-Pakistani counterterrorism cooperation has improved.

Yet it’s possible that a staffer at a hospital in Afghanistan was working for Pakistan’s intelligence service. Two days before the strike, Afghan defense officials accused Pakistan’s intelligence service of playing a key role in the Taliban’s seizure of Kunduz.

Disputes within the U.S. government about airstrikes have played out before. In December 2013, the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command bombed a group of people it considered militants, but whom outside groups claimed were civilians attending a wedding. Even after the CIA assessed that some civilians were killed in the strike, Pentagon officials continued to insist that all those hit were combatants.

The incident added an argument for some members of Congress who were resisting Obama’s proposal to shift the CIA’s drone killing program to the military.

___

National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this story.

See also here.

US tank enters ruined Afghan hospital putting ‘war crime’ evidence at risk. MSF says ‘forced entry’ by military vehicle – later said to be carrying investigators into the US airstrike that killed 22 patients and staff – caused stress and fear: here.