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Rémi Carrier: War on terror could lead to a battlefield without doctors

Rémi Carrier tells an FCC audience how the rules of war have changed - and they're no longer protecting medics Rémi Carrier tells an FCC audience how the rules of war have changed – and they’re no longer protecting medics

A change in military strategies due to the war on terror risks a battlefield without doctors. That was the stark warning from guest speaker Rémi Carrier, executive director of Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) during a talk about the increasing level of attacks on hospitals and aid convoys in war-torn areas.

Carrier appealed to all governments to revoke their ‘license to kill all’ and once again guarantee protection to those brave medics working at the front line. He was also critical of the UN Security Council and U.S. government in failing to help establish responsibility for recent attacks on hospitals in Syria and Afghanistan.

“We seek accountability, not justice,” he said.

Speaking on November 3 at a talk titled Targeting Hospitals and Aid Convoys: Old War Crime or New Tactic?, Carrier explained how previously governments in war-torn countries had honoured the Geneva Conventions that cover the rules of war, as well as other international laws designed to protect hospitals and medical staff. However, in recent years the war on terror has led to a change in the rules and many countries now do not safeguard hospitals on the frontline. This has led to devastating attacks on medical facilities including Aleppo and last year’s atrocity in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Of the Kunduz incident, in which 42 people – including medical staff – were killed after a sustained bombing of the hospital, Carrier said that the only official response to questions of why it had happened had come from the U.S., who had produced a report citing ‘mistakes’ and technical errors. Carrier told how the raid had begun in the early hours and lasted 45 minutes, during which time patients burned and those fleeing the hospital were shot from the air. There had been a strict no weapons policy at the hospital, meaning there was supposed to be an understanding that it was not a legitimate target.

FCC Correspondent Governor Florence de Changy with Rémi Carrier ahead of his talk today on the dangers faced by medics on the frontline FCC Correspondent Governor Florence de Changy with Rémi Carrier ahead of his talk today on the dangers faced by medics on the frontline

He said MSF did not accept the findings of the report and was pushing for an independent inquiry to provide accountability. When pressed, Carrier said: “(There were) Special Forces on the ground. There was technology. A very expensive plane. A report about technical issues and radios with no batteries. It’s a bit too much… We’re doubting and we do not believe what we have read.”

Carrier said new anti-terror framework now meant that international laws were being ignored, and that governments believed they could go after their enemies in ‘unrestrained fashion’ – meaning ‘today everybody is an enemy’.

He added that the recent escalation in attacks on medical facilities had led to extremely low morale among some of the 35,000 medics working for MSF. “It’s terrible. It has been a big shock for the organisation.”

MSF plans to reopen the hospital at Kunduz, although it is seeking a new facility because ‘our staff on the ground are saying they don’t want to work again in places their colleagues have been killed’.

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The European Union must unite to solve the refugee crisis – Heinz Fassmann

Heinz Fassmann talks at the FCC about the refugee crisis in Europe Heinz Fassmann talks at the FCC about the refugee crisis in Europe

The European refugee crisis is dividing the continent and is more serious politically than the financial crisis, according to Austrian migration expert Heinz Fassmann, guest speaker at the November 2 club lunch.

Effective border control and measures to ensure asylum is provided to those that need it most are two of the ways in which to ease the crisis, he said. In effect, the European Union must unite to enforce its humanitarian obligation to help the refugees, said Fassmann, an expert from the University of Vienna.

The audience at the talk titled Europe vs The Refugees: What Next? was told that currently Germany, Sweden and Austria take in the most refugees, with an intake in 2015 of 900,000, 160,000 and 90,000 respectively. All of these countries are on the Balkan route, the most popular for refugees until March this year when it was closed. Perhaps not coincidentally, these are also the countries that offer the highest benefits to asylum seekers, with Austria offering €850 per month and Germany €450 plus payment of rent.

It costs Germany €20 billion a year, and Austria €2 billion.

These factors, Fassmann explained, have put huge financial and social pressure on ‘hotspot’ countries which in turn has been a factor the rise of Right wing politics in Europe. A further contributing factor to the negativity surrounding the migration of millions of refugees fleeing war-torn places such as Syria could be put down media coverage, he said. The point at which media coverage turned away from an understanding of a humanitarian crisis was New Year 2015 when reports began appearing on social media of sexual harassment of Germans in Cologne linked to the influx of African refugees. Once the press picked up the story, attitudes within the media became negative.

Other issues unsettling Europe include the social and cultural differences between indigenous populations and asylum seekers. Studies have found that an overwhelming majority refugees are religious and favour a combination of state and religious leadership. Furthermore, there are fears that asylum seekers won’t gain employment in countries of refuge, further adding to the economic burden. Studies show that a majority of refugees from Afghanistan, for example, are illiterate and have only basic education. Those from Syria, however, are better qualified, Fassmann said.

He added that he believed that long term the influx would be beneficial to EU member states as young people would help bolster the workforce.

He said: “These are young people. They want to work. They want to learn. There could be potential for ageing countries where the baby boomers will enter into retirement.”

Among some of the solutions suggested by Fassmann were:

  • reduce attractiveness for asylum seekers by offering non-cash benefits, temporary asylum and a limitation of family reunification
  • governments combat the cause of the problem i.e. find peaceful solutions to the conflicts currently engulfing some countries
  • Improve the living conditions in refugee camps to stem the flow of those seeking refuge in Europe
  • control external EU borders and establish ‘hotspots’ where refugees are registered
  • Speed up repatriation to transit countries such as Turkey
  • introduce integration measures for accepted asylum seekers such as teaching European languages and helping them to understand a democratic, secular and liberal society

Chinese New Year 2017 Opening Hours

Funeral and Wake for Mr. Adrian Bell

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO MEMBERS: Temporary Suspension of Electricity Supply

Dear members,

Temporary Suspension of Electricity Supply

Due to the essential work on the electricity system in the Club Premises, the electricity supply will be suspended temporarily. Please note the following special arrangements during the suspension period:


Our club will be closed: Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 11:30pm
(Kitchen last order at 10:45pm, Bar last order at 11:15pm)
Service resume to normal:  Thursday, 9 March 2017 at 08:00am



We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
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