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The Geneva Convention: Upholding Health Care Protections Amidst Conflicts

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Zara Nwosu
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The Geneva Convention: Upholding Health Care Protections Amidst Conflicts

The Geneva Convention: Upholding Health Care Protections Amidst Conflicts

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The Geneva Conventions, dating back to the 1800s, act as the cornerstone of international humanitarian laws. These comprise four treaties and three additional protocols that establish legal standards for humanitarian treatment during times of war. The conventions were inspired by the dire need for medical aid and facilities for wounded soldiers in the 1800s. Over time, these laws have been expanded and updated to accommodate evolving forms of warfare. Primarily, these conventions aim to protect individuals who are not participating or have ceased to participate in hostilities.

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The Importance of Health Care Protections in War

These international laws include specific protections for health care during war. Len Rubenstein, interim director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, provides insight into the core elements of these laws, focusing on protections dating back to the 1860s. Amid ongoing conflicts, such as the current crisis in the Middle East, upholding these protections becomes significantly critical.

Violations of the Geneva Conventions

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Regrettably, there have been instances where these protections were blatantly violated. One such case is the intentional targeting of prehospital healthcare workers and ambulances in Israel, which breaches both the Geneva Conventions and human rights laws. Despite these attacks, Israel's national prehospital medical organization, Magen David Adom (MDA), continues to respond to emergencies. Such violations are alarming and call for global organizations to condemn these acts of terror and demand the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza.

Starvation as a Weapon of War

In addition to the direct attacks on healthcare workers, there have been instances where starvation is used as a weapon of war. In the Gaza Strip, severe food and water shortages have been intentionally caused by Israeli officials. This strategy aims to deprive civilians of essential commodities, a clear violation of international humanitarian laws. The consequences of these shortages are dire, with households going without food and water and essential facilities like hospitals and water desalination plants shutting down. The United Nations World Food Programme reported a high risk of famine in Gaza, highlighting the severe levels of hunger experienced by the population. This situation emphasizes the necessity of upholding the Geneva Convention protections for health care in conflict zones.

Enforcing Health Care Protections Amidst Conflicts

In light of these violations, the importance of adhering to the Geneva Conventions becomes even more pronounced. The safety and well-being of medical personnel and patients in conflict zones greatly depend on these protections. As such, there is a pressing need for major world organizations and governments to enforce these laws and hold accountable those who violate them. Ensuring the respect and implementation of these protections is not just about upholding international law; it's about preserving humanity amidst the horrors of war.

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