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Lancet Lambastes U.N.'s Inability to Protect Innocents

Current conflict in Gaza prompts call to improve international medical and humanitarian response

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza highlights the United Nations' continuing failure to protect innocent civilians in war-torn regions, according to an editorial published online Jan. 7 in The Lancet.

The editorial cites the annual list of top 10 most neglected humanitarian disasters compiled by Medecins Sans Frontieres, which is led for the third straight year by Somalia and also includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan.

The editorial lashes the United Nations for repeatedly calling for ceasefires that are ignored by warring parties, with the authors stating that the U.N. has "failed miserably to uphold its founding principle -- that every life has equal value." The editorial also calls on all doctors to urge the international community to ensure that innocent civilians injured or otherwise affected by conflicts worldwide receive the medical attention they need.

"The U.N.'s credibility is seriously undermined by the complete lack of any mechanism to hold those who break international law to account. How can the U.N. system be fit for purpose when it does not even attempt to uphold agreed international codes such as protecting civilians, ensuring that those injured and sick during conflicts receive medical attention, and that medical personnel, establishments, transport and equipment are spared?" the authors write. "Perhaps in the days to come, as the world continues to reel from the political and humanitarian fall-out of the situation in Gaza, the international community could use this catastrophe as catalyst for change to improve the medical and humanitarian response during conflicts."


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