Via The Star, health reporter Jennifer Yang writes: Kunduz patients at grave risk with top hospital in ruins, doctors leaving. Excerpt:
When Steve McVicar first arrived at the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, there wasn’t a single orthopedic clinic in the region. When he came back a year later, a clinic was up and running but bursting at the seams, with up to 100 patients every day.
The last time he saw the hospital was this past weekend in images posted online. Kunduz’s only orthopedic clinic, which McVicar has been helping to build over the past two years, was engulfed in flames.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” says McVicar, a Canadian orthopedic surgeon who volunteers with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, which operates the Kunduz hospital where the clinic is located. “I helped start the orthopedics program and I was just amazed at how far they’ve come . . . and now the hospital is gone. It’s very, very sad.”
On Monday, the global outcry intensified over this weekend’s bombing of the MSF trauma centre in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. The aid organization had been working in the region since 2011 but is now pulling out after the aerial attack in Kunduz killed 22 people — 12 MSF staffers and 10 patients — and left dozens more wounded.
The U.S. military carried out the airstrike at the request of Afghan ground troops, which reported being under Taliban fire, according to Gen. John F. Campbell, who spoke to reporters Monday in a hastily arranged news conference.
“Several innocent civilians were accidentally struck,” Campbell said.
His explanation contradicts earlier narratives provided by U.S. officials, and MSF, which is calling the attack a war crime, has demanded a “full transparent independent investigation.”
In written statements, MSF general director Christopher Stokes said he is “disgusted” by the Afghan government’s assertion that Taliban fighters were using the hospital as a base.
Stokes also criticized the U.S. government for changing its story “from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government.”
“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” he said in the statement. “There can be no justification for this horrible attack.”