Washington: US President Barack Obama has called Doctors Without Borders to apologise to it for the US mistaken bombing of the organisation-run hospital in Afghanistan, White House said on Wednesday.
General Director of Doctors Without Borders, Christopher Stokes (right) and Country Representative for MSF in Afghanistan Guilhem Molinie speak during a press conference at the MSF office in Kabul on October 8. Pics/AFP
Obama’s apology came four days after at least 22 people, including 12 staff with Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), were killed in the US airstrike in Kunduz province in Afghanistan on Saturday. The attack shocked the international community and angered aid groups worldwide.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed President Obama called the organisation’s international president Joanne Liu and told her that “the Department of Defence investigation is currently underway and it would provide a transparent, thorough and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident.”
“If necessary, the President would implement changes that would make tragedies like this one less likely to occur in the future,” Earnest added
Doctors Without Borders called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation be conducted into the incident.
The White House spokesman refused to admit the “war crime” saying on the incident and stressed “The use of that term carries a certain legal meaning, the Department of Defence takes as many precautions as anybody else does to prevent the innocent loss of life in the operations.”
He insisted that “there is no evidence has been presented that this was anything other than a terrible, tragic mistake.”
Investigations by the US, NATO and the Afghan government are underway. However, Doctors Without Borders urged that more are needed. The aid group wants a fact-finding mission to determine whether the attack violated the Geneva Conventions.
On Wednesday, Obama also telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to “express his condolences” and assured him with continuing cooperations with Afghan government and to provide “security” for Afghan people, according to White House.
Hospital presses probe request
Kabul: Doctors Without Borders says it is pressing its demand for an independent investigation into the tragic US airstrike that hit a hospital run by the medical charity in northern Afghanistan.
Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, reiterated the group’s call during a press conference in Kabul. Stokes says MSF wants the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission “to get the facts of what happened, the truth.”