Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) co-held this morning a webinar titled “Special Legal Protection for Medical Professionals at Times of Armed Conflict”.
The virtual event featured 83 participants from National Societies, representatives of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Dr. Mohamed Hamad Al-Asbali, Executive Director of the Islamic Committee of the International Crescent (ICIC), Eng. Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Malki, CEO of QRCS, and QRCS heads of mission.
In his opening speech, Ali bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, Secretary-General of QRCS, said the purpose of the webinar was to have discussion, exchange views, raise issues, and propose solutions regarding the legal protection that medical and relief personnel are supposed to enjoy while performing their professional and humanitarian responsibility of heling victims of armed conflict.
“We at QRCS have lost many humanitarian providers on the ground, and many of our health facilities were rendered inoperable as a result of deliberate bombing,” said Mr. Al-Hammadi. “This is in grave breach of the principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the Geneva Conventions, and their additional protocols, which stipulate the protection of all individuals, vehicles, and premises clearly showing the Red Crescent or Red Cross emblem”.
“While we as members of the Movement practice all forms of humanitarian action both at times of conflict and peace, there is a complementary role that we have to do for the victims of armed conflicts: To ensure that they are not made victims in the first place. This can be done by making their voices heard, urging the international community to intervene in their favor, and forcing all warring parties in international and non-international conflicts to respect international laws and conventions, as well as universal ethical rules, particularly the Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants.
“This consultative webinar is part of QRCS’s numerous activities in humanitarian diplomacy and advocacy, through active participation in international humanitarian events, exchange of visits, and signing of agreements with different Movement partners. This webinar builds on the historical close cooperation between QRCS and ICRC, on the basis of common mission and goals, towards integrated field relief work.
“The protection mandate for medical professionals applies not only to battlefields, but also to those frontliners who combat pandemics. It is a central issue to discuss, consider thoroughly, put at the top of the humanitarian agenda, and introduce insights about to adapt international humanitarian legislation accordingly. It is crucial, relevant, and up-to-date,” he concluded.
Cherine Pollini, ICRC Head of Mission – Qatar, said, “The definition of medical personnel refers to personnel assigned to the search for, collection, transportation, diagnosis, or treatment of the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked, and the prevention of disease, to the administration of medical units, or to the operation or administration of medical transports”.
“We have all witnessed, over the past years, more and more attacks on medical personnel and facilities. There is blatant abuse where we see medical personnel purposely targeted or hindered in their delivery of care. This is all over the world,” she added.
Several topics were on the agenda, including: Protection for Emblem during Armed Conflicts (speaker: Dr. Fawzi Oussedik, Head of International Relations and IHL, QRCS), Protection for Medical Professionals and Humanitarian Workers during Armed Conflicts (speaker: Dr. Moez Hedhli, IHL Advisor, ICRC – GCC), Protection for Victims of Armed Conflicts during Pandemics (speaker: Dr. Omar Mekky, Regional IHL Coordinator, ICRC – MENA), and Protection for Medical Personnel against Infection during Epidemic Outbreaks (speaker: Dr. Mohamed Fawzi Abyedh, Assistant General Medical Director for Educational, Academic, and Research Affairs, QRCS).