Critical Condition: Violence Against Health Care in Conflict

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Author(s)
Leonard Rubenstein of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Center for Humanitarian Health was the executive editor. Christina Wille and Helen Buck of Insecurity Insight managed the production of the report and led the data collection and analysis processes. Janine Elya, Senior Administrative Coordinator of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights, coordinated and fact checked the report.
Publication Date
May 22, 2024
Publication Type
Report
Topic(s)
Conflict, Public Health

Summary

In 2023, the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC) documented 2,562 incidents of violence against or obstruction of health care in 30 conflict zones, a 25% increase from 2022. The Human Rights Center was on the report’s steering committee alongside Physicians for Human Rights, Save the Children International, Human Rights Watch, and many more. HRC Advisory Board member and Research Fellow Rohini Haar worked with SHCC to review this violence. Researchers found that in the time studied, health facilities were bombed, looted, and repurposed for military use, while health workers were killed, kidnapped, and arrested. Nearly half of these incidents were attributed to state forces, with explosive weapons and drones intensifying the destruction. While the intensity of violence in some contexts continued (Syria, Ukraine, Yemen and Ethiopia), it escalated dramatically in others, especially in Myanmar and Gaza. In 2023, 480+ health workers globally were killed and over at least 625 health facilities were damaged. These figures are likely undercounts due to data collection challenges and underreporting. The international community must prioritize protecting health care in conflict zones to safeguard the lives and dignity of health workers and patients.