Accusations and denials continue to be traded between the West’s NGO, Doctors Without Borders or officially Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the Russian and Syrian government. Despite the gravity of the accusations by the West and MSF, which suggest “deliberate” and egregious war crimes, they have thus far produced no evidence. Not only have they produced no evidence, they openly admit that so far, they have none.
Reuters in their article, “MSF seeks independent probe into bombing of Syria hospital,” reveals as much by claiming (emphasis added):
“This attack can only be considered deliberate. It was probably carried out by the Syrian government-led coalition that is predominantly active in the region,” she told a news briefing.
Accounts from surviving hospital staff led MSF to believe that the government-led coalition had carried out the attack.
“We say a probability because we don’t have more facts than the accounts from our staff,” Liu said, noting that it took time to collect forensic evidence. “The only thing predominantly in the region is the Syrian government-led coalition.”
For an international organization to accuse two nations of “war crimes” with admittedly nothing more than “accounts,” not from an MSF hospital and their staff, but from an alleged hospital “supported by” MSF and run by local staff, indicates self-serving political motivation, not impartial, selfless charity. But beyond baseless accusations, this most recent incident reveals something far more sinister MSF may be guilty of.
MSF’s Use and Abuse of the Geneva Conventions
When the United States inexplicably bombed MSF’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan last year, among the many statements released by MSF would include one published on their own website titled, “Afghanistan: Enough. Even war has rules.” In it, it claims that (emphasis added):
This was not just an attack on our hospital – it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated. These Conventions govern the rules of war and were established to protect civilians in conflicts – including patients, medical workers and facilities. They bring some humanity into what is otherwise an inhumane situation.
The Geneva Conventions are not just an abstract legal framework – they are the difference between life and death for medical teams on the frontline. They are what allow patients to access our health facilities safely and what allows us to provide healthcare without being targeted.
It is precisely because attacking hospitals in war zones is prohibited that we expected to be protected. And yet, ten patients including 3 children, and 12 MSF staff were killed in the aerial raids.
In another entry on MSF’s website titled, “Kunduz Hospital Airstrike,” MSF clearly states that (emphasis added):
All parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS Coordinates) of the MSF facilities – hospital, guest-house, office and an outreach stabilization unit in Chardara (to the north-west of Kunduz). As MSF does in all conflict contexts, these precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months, including most recently on 29 September.
It appears that not only is MSF very familiar with the Geneva Conventions, and more specifically, those articles and additional protocols that govern their work as medical care providers amid armed conflict, they also clearly understand how they apply in a modern context.
For instance, the Geneva Conventions, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) states clearly under, “Emblem: relevant articles of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols,” that (emphasis added):
Civilian hospitals shall be marked by means of the emblem provided for in Article 38 [red cross or red crescent] of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949, but only if so authorized by the State.
The Parties to the conflict shall, in so far as military considerations permit, take the necessary steps to make the distinctive emblems indicating civilian hospitals clearly visible to the enemy land, air and naval forces in order to obviate the possibility of any hostile action.
In view of the dangers to which hospitals may be exposed by being close to military objectives, it is recommended that such hospitals be situated as far as possible from such objectives.
MSF clearly understands the Geneva Conventions, and in a modern context, understands that to avoid violating the Conventions, making a hospital visible to military land, air, and naval forces requires that the GPS coordinates of the hospital be given to all parties of the conflict. They are thus, “marked,” satisfying the Geneva Conventions’ requirements.
However, in Syria, MSF is in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Unmarked Hospitals Violate the Geneva Conventions
In Reuters article, “MSF seeks independent probe into bombing of Syria hospital,” it would also admit (emphasis added):
MSF said it had not provided the hospital’s GPS coordinates to Syrian or Russian authorities, at the request of local staff.
Furthermore, MSF’s admission that its hospitals are unmarked directly contradict their assertion that the attacks on these unmarked hospitals were “deliberate.” Indeed, in the same Reuters article, MSF would paradoxically claim that: While MSF accuses Syria and Russia of violating the Geneva Conventions – accusations both Syria and Russia deny, MSF itself blatantly admits that it violated the Conventions itself.
“This attack can only be considered deliberate. It was probably carried out by the Syrian government-led coalition that is predominantly active in the region,” she [Dr. Joanne Liu] told a news briefing.
If the hospitals were unmarked and concealed in fear of being deliberately attacked, how then, were they still deliberately attacked? That will be yet another significant claim now incumbent upon MSF and their “independent inquiry” to answer adequately with accompanying evidence.
Undermining Humanitarianism While Hiding Behind It
In reality, like a previous string of accusations leveled at both Syria and Russia, no evidence will be provided, no inquiry will be opened, and no truth will be arrived at.
MSF, in partaking in politically-motivated war propaganda, not only undermines its own alleged mission statement, but undermines all humanitarian charity undertaken during times of conflict. MSF poses as standing for humanitarianism while undermining and cynically taking advantage of every rule, regulation, and convention defined to truly uphold it.
For those honest volunteers among MSF who are not involved in rendering aid to terrorists, in terrorist-held territory, in unmarked hospitals in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, they may want to either search out another organization with more genuine means and methods, or better still, start one of their own.
Readers should recall that it was also MSF who played a pivotal role in attempting to frame the Syrian government for a large-scale chemical weapons attack near Damascus in 2013. It would later turn out that evidence implicated terrorists and their Turkish and Saudi sponsors. Even at that time, MSF would admit that its organization focused on providing “care” to those fighting the Syrian government – now all admittedly Al Qaeda-affiliates and/or “Islamic State” terrorists. It appears that in addition to medical aid, MSF is providing significant rhetorical aid to their cause as well.