Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Addis Ababa University, School of Law

March 10, 2021, Addis Ababa

Background and rationale

Armed conflict and internal disturbances – such as violent protests and riots – cause injuries among those directly participating and those who get caught in the way. Serious injuries require medical attention, yet it is precisely at these moments of greatest need that health-care services are most vulnerable to disruption, interference and attack. Violence, both actual and threatened, hugely impacts upon accessibility of health services, at times threatening the lives of those who need the services most. Violence against or in the vicinity of medical facilities may also cause health personnel to flee, leaving a big void in the much-needed health care services- affecting not just those who are wounded in the fighting but also those that suffer from chronic illnesses that require regular care and follow-up. It may damage health facilities or vehicles, as well as hamper vital preventive health care programmes such as vaccination campaigns, resulting in serious health implications in the long-run. The fight to eradicate polio, for example, has faced setbacks in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the safety of vaccination teams is difficult to assure. The health care system shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack.

Against the backdrop of the concerning humanitarian issue of violence against health-care and the urgent need for a continued focus on the matter, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched in 2011 the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) Initiative. The initiative aims at addressing the issue of violence against patients, health workers, facilities and vehicles, thus ensuring safe access to and delivery of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. The initiative also underscores that all reasonable measures should be taken to ensure safe and prompt access to health care for the wounded and sick, in times of armed conflict or other emergencies, in accordance with the applicable legal frameworks, where relevant and appropriate, to adopt and effectively implement the required domestic measures, including legislative, regulatory and practical ones, to ensure respect for their international legal obligations pertaining to the protection of the wounded and sick and health-care personnel, facilities, and medical transports, and the protection and use of the distinctive emblems by authorized medical personnel, facilities and transports.

Participants

The participants will be drawn from lecturers of IHL and related fields of law such as human rights, international criminal law, and if feasible, from the medical and public health schools. Senior students who are engaged in the activities of the IHL clinic and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society will also participate in the seminar. The total number of participants is expected to be around 20.

Date/Venue: The seminar will be conducted on the 10th of March 2021 at Addis Ababa University, Law school building, room 8.

Expected Outcomes: After the seminar, it is expected that participants will have a very good grasp of the challenges surrounding respect and protection of health care globally (and, to a limited extent, in Ethiopia). The seminar will also hopefully serve as a stepping-stone for the envisioned collaboration with the IHL clinic of Addis Ababa University, to conduct an HCiD legal and administrative set-up review for Ethiopia. Participants will also be provided with selected resources that can serve as references for those interested in pursuing the topic further.

Resources for the Workshop

Main reference document: “Protecting Health Care: Key Recommendations”, available here.

additional reading (available for download in the Resource Center at www.healthcareindanger.org):

“The implementation of rules protecting the provision of health care in armed conflicts and other emergencies: a guidance tool”

“The responsibilities of health-care personnel working in armed conflict and other emergencies”

Contact Persons:

  • Raji Gezahegn, Legal adviser
  • Eyerusalem Teshome, Head of Prevention
  • Yosalem Negus, Director AAU IHL Clinc,ihlclinicaau@gmail.com

Schedule

TimeActivityResponsible
9:00- 9:30  Opening remarks/Welcome speech       Video: “One of the first victims of war is the health-care system”Abdi Jibril (Ph.D.), Head of Law School, Addis Ababa University   International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
9:30-10:00Challenges facing the healthcare system amid conflicts: a snapshotAna Elisa M. Barbar  Adviser to the Health Unit, Health Care in Danger Initiative, ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)  
10:00-11:00The Health care in Danger Initiative of the RCRC Movement: What is it and the rationaleAna Elisa M. Barbar 

11:00-11:30 Health break😊
11:30- 12:30International legal frameworks for the protection of health care    Raji Gezahegn, Legal adviser, ICRC
12:30- 13:00Protection of Red Cross Emblem under Ethiopian LawTewodros Alamerew, Head of Legal Services, Ethiopia Red Cross Society (ERCS)
13:00-13:30Wrap up and next stepsEyerusalem Teshome, Head of Prevention, ICRC
13:30LunchFacilitators