Via CBC News: Hospital bombings won't keep them away from Syria or Yemen, health workers say. Excerpt:
A Canadian nurse says a rise in illegal attacks on hospitals and health-care services won't stop her from working in war-torn countries.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization released a report documenting 594 attacks on hospitals and clinics — many in the Middle East and Africa — between January 2014 and December 2015. Those attacks killed 959 medical staff, patients and visitors and injured more than 1,500 people, the report said.
Those numbers don't include the casualties from hospital and clinic bombings this year in Syria.
"I think it's a human right ... to have access to health care," said Céline Langlois, who works as a medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). "Once you hear all of the stories that people are ... facing in a war zone, you cannot just walk away."
"This is a huge problem. Attacks on health workers are not isolated, they are not accidental and they are not stopping," said Dr. Bruce Aylward, the interim head of emergency response at WHO.
Langlois, who is living in Montreal after returning from a five-month assignment in Yemen in November, has seen first-hand how the threat to health-care workers in conflict zones has increased.
For example, when she worked in the midst of a war in the Central Africa Republic, rebel fighters would ask Doctors Without Borders to move away from any area they intended to hit, Langlois said.
"I did not feel, you know, they will touch me or they will target us," she said. "But in Yemen ... it's really different."
"It's always in your mind that you are in a zone where you're not really safe anywhere."
Langlois worked in Taiz, on the front line of Yemen's war, where the few hospitals left standing were overwhelmed and only treating fighters and civilians wounded by the conflict, leaving no medical services for anyone else.
Her team opened a hospital, completely staffed by women, dedicated to maternal and children's care. But Langlois doubts the facility's specialization will make it less of a target for attacks.
"I wish but I don't think so," she said.
To try to stay out of the line of fire, medical teams are constantly aware of their surroundings, she said.
"Before the airstrike, you always hear the plane," she said. "You know when they are coming to bomb ... because the planes are, you know, flying really low.
"So of course when you hear the plane, everyone really gets nervous and everyone looks for shelter because we don't know where they're going to hit."