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Violence against healthcare workers and facilities

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Complex security environments are characterized by a combination of one or more factors, including violence, extreme poverty, environmental disasters and a lack of governance. Reliable access to healthcare is most needed in these settings, yet its delivery is challenging, due in part to targeted violence against healthcare workers. 

International humanitarian law and international human rights law presents a framework for the respect and protection of healthcare missions and the right to medical assistance in armed conflict. However, a shift against these norms occurred in the mid-1990s, which saw targeted violence against health workers and facilities. This includes direct attacks (e.g. murders, kidnappings), obstructions (e.g. ambulances being stopped at checkpoints) and discrimination (e.g. staff pressured to treat one patient over another).

Research staff

Dr Rachel Irwin was a Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Security and Development Programme.