Word For Peace
United Nations, May 13 (PTI) UN chief Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned the “horrific” attack on a maternity hospital in Afghanistan that killed at least 14 people, including two newborn babies, saying that those who carry out such “unacceptable” crimes must be held accountable.
Militants attacked the Sad Bistar maternity hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, killing 14 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers and an unspecified number of nurses.
In a separate attack on the same day, a suicide bomber targeted a funeral ceremony in the country’s Nangarhar province, a hotbed of the Islamic State group, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68.
“The secretary-general strongly condemns the horrific attack (Tuesday) on a hospital in Kabul, which killed and wounded dozens of people, including women and children,” a statement issued by the UN chief’s spokesperson said.
Guterres expressed his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Afghanistan.
“He reiterates that attacks against civilians are unacceptable and that hospitals, medical facilities and personnel have special protection under the international humanitarian law. Those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable,” the statement said.
The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and government of Afghanistan and remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led peace process that will end the conflict, it said.
Guterres is also following with concern the escalation of violence in the country as attacks claimed scores of lives in Balkh, Khost, and Nangarhar provinces, it said.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a tweet expressed “shock and revulsion” over the attacks.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Toby Lanzer, was “outraged” by the attack on the hospital, a 100-bed facility, which was full of patients and medical staff when the assault took place.
“It beggars belief that such a heinous act could be committed when Afghanistan is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, the coronavirus has infected nearly 5,000 people in the country and claimed over 125 lives.
“Civilians receiving care in hospitals, health workers, medical infrastructure and aid workers are protected under International Humanitarian Law; violations must be investigated and those behind the attacks brought to justice,” Lanzer said.
At the daily press briefing, Spokesman for the secretary-general Stephane Dujarric was asked if the UN has any idea who the perpetrators of the attack were.
“I have no more information than you do except to note that it was really a horrendous attack… Every loss of life is tragic; every attack is tragic, but to attack a maternity ward is… it’s truly beyond the pale,” Dujarric said.