The first to arrive were lightly wounded—those who were able to get to the hospital on their own. Then two large trucks arrived, carrying many patients. We realized how important our disaster plan was, which MSF had developed more than two months previous. Thanks to the plan, we were able to triage the slightly wounded and the more serious cases.
There were so many patients, we had to stay in the hospital for two full days and nights. We operated around the clock, trying to stabilize the most serious cases. Despite our intensive care and surgical care efforts, two people died.
The use of an ambulance by Taliban suicide attackers in a raid on a police training centre in the southern province of Kandahar on 7 April has been acknowledged as a violation of war laws and the insurgents have promised investigations.
“This will not happen again,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told IRIN.
The sad irony is that the Obama administration had been moving things in the right direction. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, she spoke of the importance of a “smart power” strategy, combining the United States’ hard and soft-power resources. Her Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and her efforts (along with USAID chief Rajiv Shah) to revamp the United States’ aid bureaucracy and budget were important steps in that direction. Now, in the name of an illusory contribution to deficit reduction (when you’re talking about deficits in the trillions, $38 billion in savings is a drop in the bucket), those efforts have been set back. Polls consistently show a popular misconception that aid is a significant part of the U.S. federal budget, when in fact it amounts to less than 1 percent. Thus, congressional cuts to aid in the name of deficit reduction are an easy vote, but a cheap shot.
The 11 shells that hit Medina Hospital in Mogadishu without exploding three days ago have been collected up and stored, waiting for a bomb disposal unit to neutralize them.
Although nothing suggests that the hospital was deliberately targeted, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation not to harm medical staff, hospitals, clinics and similar facilities. Attacks may be directed only against persons taking a direct part in hostilities and against military objectives, and warring parties must take all necessary precautions to avoid harming the civilian population and civilian objects.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.