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Ghani meets MSF officials over hospital bombing

Ghani meets MSF officials over hospital bombing

Oct 09, 2015 - 18:19

KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani met with members of medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) or Doctors without Borders on Friday, two days after the group pressed its demand for an international commission to investigate the bombing of its hospital in northern Kunduz province.

A statement from the Presidential Palace said the president met with Christopher Stokes, MSF general director, and Guilhem Molinie, the group's country director for Afghanistan.

Stokes had earlier said in a press conference the charity sought the creation of an international commission under the Geneva Convictions for investigating the MSF hospital’s bombing in a US airstrike that killed 22 people, including 12 MSF Kunduz.

He said the American forces had violated international laws and it should be ascertained as to why the hospital full of patients was bombed.

President Ghani told the charity officials that he had directed Afghan security forces to prevent such incidents on humanitarian agencies.

“No Afghan soldier had entered the hospital and they did not violate any human rights standards, while human rights violations by terrorist groups are rampant,” said the president.

Ghani said it was necessary the ongoing investigations should be completed and to know how the intelligence was gathered and acted upon. Before the findings, he said, there shouldn’t be any judgments.

Ghani assured the MSF officials of his government’s fully cooperation with foreign forces in investigating the incident.

The president on Thursday appointed a high-level fact-finding delegation to review the troubled province’s security situation.

The delegation comprising Amrullah Saleh, a former head of the National Directorate of Security, Ghulam Farooq Warak, former education minister, Fazel Karim Aimaq, Ayub Rafiqi and Abdullah Mohammadi would investigate the Kunduz incident from all angels independently, Ghani told elders from Kunduz.

The meeting between Ghani and MSF officials comes two days after US President Barack Obama apologised for the deadly bombing and extended condolences to President Ghani.

Obama telephoned MSF International President Joanne Liu to apologize, White House spokesman Josh Earnest had said. Asked whether Obama offered some explanation to Liu, Earnest said no. "He merely offered his heartfelt apology" and a commitment to find out what went wrong, he said.

MSF said that the commission's inquiry would gather facts and evidence from the United States, NATO and Afghanistan, as well as testimony from MSF staff and patients who survived.

Only then would MSF consider whether to bring criminal charges for loss of life and partial destruction of its trauma hospital, which has left tens of thousands of Afghans without access to health care, it said.

"If we let this go, as if it was a non-event, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries who are at war," Liu told a news briefing in Geneva. "If we don't safeguard that medical space for us to do our activities, then it is impossible to work in other contexts like Syria, South Sudan, like Yemen."