October 07, 2015

From around 2:00-2:08 a.m. until 3:00-3:15 a.m. on Saturday, October 3, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, came under precise and repeated airstrikes. The main hospital building, which housed the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, laboratory, X-ray, outpatient department, mental health, and physiotherapy ward, was hit with precision, repeatedly, during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.

Update, November 5, 2015

MSF has released an internal document reviewing the October 3 airstrikes by US forces on its hospital in northern Afghanistan. The chronological review of the events leading up to, during, and immediately following the airstrikes reveal no reason why the hospital should have come under attack. There were no armed combatants or fighting within or from the hospital grounds. Click here to read the internal review.

Update, November 4, 2015

On the one-month anniversary of the bombing of the MSF trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, MSF and supporters around the world came together to grieve and honor the colleagues and patients who were killed. "We continue to fight back for the respect of the Geneva Conventions," said Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA. "We are fighting back for the sake of our patients."

Update, October 23, 2015

"We received President Obama's apology today for the attack against our trauma hospital in Afghanistan. However, we reiterate our ask that the US government consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to establish what happened in Kunduz, how it happened, and why it happened."

—Dr. Joanne Liu, MSF International President

Updated November 5, 2015 on basis of the initial outcomes of MSF’s internal review.

  • The total number of dead is known to be at least 42, including 24 patients, 14 staff, and 4 caretakers.
  • So far MSF also confirms 27 staff injured and also many patients and caretakers. Following the chaos of the attack, tracing patients has been extremely difficult and a definite number of wounded may be impossible to determine. 
  • From September 28, when major fighting broke out in Kunduz city, until the time of the attack, MSF teams in Kunduz had treated 376 patients in the emergency room.
  • When the aerial attack occurred, there were 105 patients in the hospital and 140 MSF international and national staff present, of whom 80 were on duty that night.
  • Our staff reported no armed combatants or fighting in the compound prior to the airstrike.
  • MSF’s facility in Kunduz was a fully functioning hospital that was full of patients and MSF staff.

Protection of Medical Services Under International Humanitarian Law: A Primer

  • The attacks took place despite the fact that MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma hospital to the US Department of Defense, Afghan Ministry of Interior and Defense, and US Army in Kabul as recently as Tuesday, September 29. The attack continued for more than 30 minutes after we first informed Resolute Support  and US military officials in Kabul and Washington that it was a hospital being hit.
  • In the aftermath of the attack, the MSF team desperately tried to move wounded and ill patients out of harm’s way, and tried to save the lives of wounded colleagues and patients after setting up a makeshift operating theater in an undamaged room.
  • MSF’s hospital was the only facility of its kind in northeastern Afghanistan, providing free high-level life- and limb-saving trauma care. Since opening the hospital in 2011, more than 15,000 surgeries were conducted and more than 68,000 emergency patients were treated.

Slideshow: MSF's Work in Kunduz

  • The MSF hospital in Kunduz has been substantially destroyed and is no longer operational. This leaves thousands of people without access to emergency medical care when they need it most.
  • We demand an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFCC.org) to establish the facts of this event. The IHFCC is not a UN body; it was created in 1991 by Additional Protocol 1, article 90 of the Geneva Conventions that govern the rules of war. The IHFCC is set up for precisely this purpose: to independently investigate violations of humanitarian law, such as attacks on hospitals, which are protected in conflict zones.
  • MSF started working in Afghanistan in 1980. In Kunduz, as in the rest of Afghanistan, national and international staff work together to ensure the best quality of treatment. MSF supports the Ministry of Public Health in Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in eastern Kabul; Dasht-e-Barchi Maternity Center in western Kabul; and Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province. In Khost, in the east of the country, MSF operates a maternity hospital.
  • As in all its projects, MSF doctors treat people according to their medical needs and do not make distinctions based on a patient’s ethnicity, religious beliefs, or political affiliation.
  • MSF relies only on private funding and does not accept money from any government for its work in Afghanistan.

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