Treat hospital attacks seriously

Last Wednesday, the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders-supported hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo led to the deaths of an estimated 30 people, including at least two doctors. Reports said the region’s only active pediatrician died in the attack. 
 
 
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an organization that works to provide medical care to parts of the world in which there are limited resources for local providers to treat people. 
 
 
Last October, airstrikes by the United States government hit a critical trauma hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. We would have expected this attack to have yielded harsher consequences from the international community. After all, if the attack on a hospital were deliberate, the law would consider it a war crime. 
 
 
Yet the U.S. military investigated itself and found itself to be not guilty. There was no independent investigation. There was hardly transparency. There was limited justice. 
 
 
In order to prevent further attacks on hospitals, we need to take two steps. First, government officials must initiate an independent investigation into the attacks in Kunduz and Aleppo. Biased investigations are not an acceptable response to possible violations of international law. 
 
 
Second, American legislators should push to amend the Geneva Conventions in a way that would provide stricter punishments for attacks on hospitals.
 
 
Medical professionals join groups like MSF to ensure global civilians receive proper medical care. If the international community values the sanctity of civilian life, it must begin by protecting doctors and the people they treat.