On 3 October 2015, a United States airstrike hit a trauma center operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 30 people.
The attack sparked international outrage, fueled by reports detailing how patients “burned to death” as the bombardment continued for more than 30 minutes, despite the charity group frantically informing both U.S. and Afghan military officials.
The world was furious. People demanded accountability and answers from the U.S. military, with MSF claiming the attack could amount to a war crime. However, the anger didn’t yield any results. The White House got away with a simple apology and let the soldiers responsible for the carnage with a slap on the wrists.
A few days later, another hospital was destroyed in Hayden, Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling anti-government rebels.
This time around, there was, again, a lot of anger but it was considerably lesser and quieter than what was witnessed in the aftermath of the Kunduz attack.
And it lessened to deafening silence in the following months.
This week, a hospital supported by MSF in a northern Syrian province was reportedly bombed, killing at least 13 people including five children.
And it was only one of the several attacks on health care facilities to have occurred this year.
Syrian government forces bombarded six hospitals around Aleppo, Syria, in nearly a week (July 23-31). The attacks included one on a maternity hospital in Idlib province, according to the international charity Save the Children, which supports the facility, killing and several, including babies.
“Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said it was the worst week for attacks on medical facilities in the Aleppo region since the beginning of Syria's five-year conflict, which has killed more than 250,000 people,” NBC News reported.
In May, MSF pulled out of a UN-backed aid summit and released a statement, saying 75 hospitals managed or supported by the charity were bombed across different war zones over the past year.
“This was in violation of the most fundamental rules of war which gives protected status to medical facilities and its patients, regardless if the patients are civilians or wounded combatants,” the group stated.
Following the alleged attacks by Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces on their facilities in the region, the 29 remaining doctors, currently working in eastern Aleppo wrote an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to intervene.
While their plea comes out of utter desperation one can’t help but notice how odd it is to expect intervention from the Obama administration over the bombardment of MSF hospitals when the same government got away with similar carnage in Kunduz by calling it a “mistake,” an outrageous apology that has, to a great extent, contributed to the morbid normalization of bombing hospitals in contemporary warfare.