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Member since: Sat Jun 4, 2005, 08:56 AM
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A question about the bombing of the MSF hospital in Afghanistan

I asked this in another thread and did not get a response.

First, please know that I am a huge supporter of MSF. The questions I'm asking are to fill a gap in my knowledge. Because this part of the story makes no sense to me.


Was the MSF facility marked as a hospital? Presumably, in Afghanistan that would have been with a large red crescent symbol, visible from the air. I have seen nothing in any article that I've read (admittedly not a large percentage of what's out there) that indicates the facility was clearly marked, or not.

If it was, why did the pilot bomb it anyway? If it was visibly marked as a hospital, he should have known that any order to bomb that site was an illegal order, and should have responded along the lines of, "negative, the site is marked as a hospital, we can't bomb a hospital". According to my understanding of the laws of war, anyway.

It is wasn't, why wasn't it? Okay, here is where it gets fuzzy for me. Again, by my understanding of the laws of war - which may be completely wrong of course - if a medical facility is marked by a universally recognized symbol such as a red cross or a red crescent, then if a faction attacks it they are violating the laws of war. (Geneva Convention?) But if it is NOT marked, how does it expect that protection? For all that has been posted about "they told the US their coordinates" that STILL does not make it easy for a pilot to recognize while flying a mission. And that visible recognition would be the final protection in case of human error in providing target coordinates. So I wouldn't think that the new technology of GPS would make the need for marking obsolete. On the other hand, some of these groups we're fighting with allegedly ignore the laws of war anyway, and who knows might even deliberately target a hospital if it is so marked. So maybe there are good reasons why hospitals aren't marked any more, or just this particular hospital wasn't marked?


I appreciate any thoughtful, informed replies and discussion on this topic.

(I will only be able to check in off and on but I will read all replies when I can.)
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