7 March 2016 — Defenders for Medical Impartiality (DMI) and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) are pleased to announce the publishing of Doctors in Distress: Systematic violations of Medical Impartiality — a report on the widespread and systematic violations of medical impartiality in countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The effects of modern conflicts in the MENA region on healthcare are devastating. Doctors in Distress: Systematic violations of Medical Impartiality looks at the cases of armed conflict in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, and civil unrest in Bahrain and Egypt, and finds that, despite the protection afforded by international law, healthcare continues to be the silent victim of 21st century conflict. Findings from these assessments show that blockades, armed sieges, lack of basic medicine, and the destruction of transportation routes, just like bullets and bombs, all lead to countless deaths. Direct and indirect violations of medical impartiality not only affect medical personnel, but also affect the rights and safety of millions of individuals in need of medical attention, and could have lasting repercussions for decades to come. The international legal framework contains many provisions that protect the right to health and the right to access medical care in times of conflict as well as in times of peace. In practice, however, these provisions have not always been effectively implemented. This report argues that parties to conflicts must do more to better respect the rules of medical impartiality and that the international community must hold violators of medical impartiality accountable and must also force the protections of medical impartiality into general applicability.

Download a copy of the complete report: Doctors in Distress