The world is witnessing a sustained assault on the provision of health care in times of conflict. The principle that care comes first has to be enforced.

In this op-ed article in The Guardian, ICRC President Peter Maurer and Dr Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), welcome the proposal for a landmark UN resolution to protect healthcare.

They have urged the UN security council to make the resolution effective by sending a powerful political message that healthcare needs to be protected.

Here is an excerpt:

Underpinning everything has to be the acceptance that the medical needs of people – no matter who they are, where they are from or what side they support or fight for – must take precedence. Medical staff are present in areas of conflict in order to care for the sick and wounded, on the basis of need. And only need. This is the fundamental principle of impartiality and is the basis of medical ethics. It is the very fact that doctors treat on the basis of need – and are not involved in hostilities – that they can claim protection under international humanitarian law.

The UN resolution provides an opportunity. An opportunity to draw a line in the sand and prevent further attacks like that in Aleppo. States have the moral and legal responsibility to act, to protect people caught up in armed conflict. The time to act is now.

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