Afghanistan: MSF opens first clinic in Kunduz since US strike

MSF clinic in KunduzImage copyright

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The clinic will treat patients with minor or chronic injuries

Médecins Sans Frontières has reopened a small medical clinic in the Afghan city of Kunduz – its first facility there since US air strikes destroyed a hospital it ran in 2015.

An MSF official said the clinic would only provide treatment for minor or chronic injuries.

The US attack in 2015 killed 42 people, including patients and medical staff.

A US military inquiry said it was the result of “human error” but MSF called it a war crime.

The bombardment took place as US-backed Afghan forces were battling to reverse the Taliban’s seizure of Kunduz.

“We are really happy to restart medical activities in Kunduz, though we know that the needs are much bigger than the ones we will provide,” MSF head of programmes in Afghanistan, Silvia Dallatomasina, told the BBC.

“But this is just the first step to be able to – and we are willing to do it – restart proper trauma care in Kunduz city.”

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Media captionThe BBC gained exclusive footage from inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz

MSF has been meeting the Afghan government, US government and armed groups, and received enough assurances to reopen, she added.

The new facility, which has one doctor and five nurses, is not located at the site of the hospital bombed in 2015.

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The facility has one doctor and five nurses

A US military inquiry said that the crew of the AC-130 gunship mistook the clinic for a nearby government building that had been taken over by Taliban fighters.

The crew – tired from days of fighting – took off earlier than planned without the correct preparatory information, Gen Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, said at the time.

Because it was unintentional, it did not constitute a war crime, he added.

But MSF said it was “incomprehensible” that the bombing had not been halted. The inquiry found that doctors on the ground rang US officials 10 minutes into the attack pleading for them to stop, but it was another 20 minutes before they did.

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