* Event simulates air strikes on major city hospital
* Marks U.S. strike on Kunduz hospital, Afghanistan a year
* Charity condemns attacks on health centres in Syria, Yemen
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, Oct 3 Geneva's main hospital became a
fiery inferno on Monday night in a simulation to commemorate the
deadly U.S. air strike on a Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan a
year ago and to condemn alleged Syrian and Russian bombing of
health centres in Aleppo.
The #NotaTarget event was organised by Medecins Sans
Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which had run the Kunduz
trauma centre until it was destroyed in the one-hour bombing on
Oct. 3, 2015. Forty-two people, including 14 of the medical
charity's staff, were killed in a U.S. strike that the Pentagon
later said did not amount to a war crime, blaming human error
and equipment failure.
Four hospitals in the rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo have
been destroyed during the Syrian-Russian air campaign in the
past week, leaving just five intensive care beds for 250,000
people, the group said at the event.
"We are gathered to express our sadness and consternation
but also our indignation. The 3rd of October remains a black
day," Joanne Liu, president of MSF International, told the crowd
gathered outside Geneva University Hospital.
"But these attacks haven't stopped with Kunduz. Over the
last 12 months, the extent of the destruction of hospitals and
clinics in Yemen and Syria leaves us speechless. ... As I speak,
Aleppo is on fire, it is a bloodbath."
The Geneva hospital, where U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry was treated for a broken femur in May 2015, was lit up at
night with projections of war planes bombing it. Images of
patients, doctors and nurses scrambled behind the seemingly
shattered windows as the medical wards appeared to burst into
Dr. Kathleen Thomas, an Australian doctor who survived the
U.S. gunship attack on the 92-bed Kunduz hospital serving nearly
one million people in northern Afghanistan, testified to the
"We scurried around the room like rats in a cage," she said.
"Patients were burning in their beds."
North-eastern Afghanistan has been left without a trauma
centre, Thomas said. "This is not just a mistake occurring in
the fog of war. This is a tactic of war."
Thomas Nierle, president of MSF Switzerland, said another
ceremony planned in Kunduz had been postponed on Monday as
Taliban fighters fought their way into the provincial capital.
"Without an independent investigation we will never know
what happened," Nierle said in an interview.
In the past year, health centres supported by Medecins Sans
Frontieres have been attacked 80 times, mainly in Syria and
Yemen. "It has become part of the military and political
strategy," Nierle said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Richard Chang)