IRRC No. 907/908/909

An environment conducive to mistakes? Lessons learnt from the attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan

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On 3 October 2015, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan was bombed during a US–Afghan joint military operation to retake the city. Even before that night, attacks on health-care facilities in war zones were already a worrying trend and a major concern for humanitarian organizations. Such attacks have led both MSF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to launch campaigns1 addressing the need for greater protection of the medical mission in situations of armed conflict. Nonetheless, the scale and specific context of the attack on the Kunduz Trauma Centre have given rise to various specific investigations2 and provoked many more questions that this article will explore. The article will delve into the “many mistakes” scenario that has been presented by the US investigation in order to critically analyze whether these mistakes may originate from either incorrect or biased interpretations or implementation of international humanitarian law.

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