ICN calls for health workers and civilians to be protected in Israel and Gaza conflict

16 October 2023
WS 21

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has joined with colleagues in the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) in calling for all parties in the Israel and Gaza conflict to respect and protect access to healthcare, and ensure the safety of civilians and health workers.

A statement issued by the WHPA said healthcare workers are continuing to deliver emergency medical care in the conflict areas with no regard to ethnicity, race, religion or political affiliation. But by doing so they are being put at enormous risk, and tragically, many have been injured or killed.

ICN and its WHPA colleagues are calling on all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, namely that under the Geneva Conventions the ill-treatment and killing of civilians is prohibited, and the sick and wounded must be cared for.

ICN President Dr Pamela Cipriano said “International humanitarian law is unequivocal that access to healthcare is a human right, and that civilians and health workers must not be targeted. Tragically, we know that thousands are being injured and killed.”

ICN is in close and constant contact with its National Nurses Association members in the area that have been affected by the conflict, and has sent messages of condolence and support.

ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said ICN is receiving multiple and continuing reports of injuries and deaths of nurses and other health workers in the conflict area.

Mr Catton said: “Nurses and other health workers are simply doing their job, but that is putting them at huge personal risk. International humanitarian laws must be adhered to so that healthcare workers and all those with health needs, including children and vulnerable adults, are protected from harm.

‘Along with our WHPA partners, we are demanding respect and protection of healthcare facilities and staff. ICN joins with all those who deplore the heinous acts of violence we have witnessed in the past week, and calls for an end to this horrific and tragic loss of life, and for the restoration of peace.”