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Tigray, the unending wound: an example of impunity in the face of attacks on the medical mission

This article aims to outline the risks to which medical humanitarian action in conflict zones, in particular Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is exposed. Tigray is a painful and open example of the risks we face. On 24 June 2021, three humanitarian workers were killed on a road about 50 minutes from Abi Adi, the base of operations of one of Médecins Sans Frontières’ teams in the region, while on their way to assess medical needs in a nearby village. Attacks on the medical mission and other purely civilian facilities, such as schools, kindergartens or markets, have become a widespread trend in some contexts, which, in most cases, remain frozen in a limbo of absolute impunity. This is a very worrying trend in the medical-humanitarian context, because without minimum conditions of security and respect for medical-humanitarian action by all actors involved in the conflict, the humanitarian space is greatly reduced, leaving populations without any relief. The lack of accountability of those who intentionally inflict pain and suffering, coupled with the powerlessness of the population due to the difficulties of access to them, is a wound that will not heal. This article pivots on both concepts to approach the still unsolved murders of our colleagues, with a more global look at the limitations of medical humanitarian practice and the need to protect the medical mission in conflict zones.

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