ResourcesPress Release

Turkish Government Must Immediately Allow Access to Health Care

Security Forces Have Blocked Access in Southeastern Turkey

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today called on the Turkish government to immediately allow access to medical care which has been blocked by its security forces in the southeastern part of the country.

A recently released video appears to show security forces killing unarmed civilians who were attempting to help the injured in the town of Cizre. As the Turkish government has stepped up its campaign against Kurdish insurgents, civilians in Turkey’s Kurdish cities are increasingly in the line of fire. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey has reported a number of cases of medical care being denied.

Access to health care is blocked both by the government refusing to allow ambulances to access and transport the wounded or ill and by the imposition of a 24-hour curfew that makes it impossible for people to travel to hospitals and clinics. PHR said the Turkish government must ensure people can access medical facilities; that medical transport and personnel are allowed safe passage; and that all sick and wounded civilians and combatants can receive care.

“In southeastern Turkey, there are credible allegations of Turkish security forces deliberately targeting civilians, some of whom are attempting to help the wounded,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s medical director. “It is critical that Turkey abide by international norms that require unrestricted access to health care for the sick and injured.”

As part of the curfew imposed in the area, the Turkish government is also cutting delivery of water and electricity, both critical to the provision of basic health care. Water scarcity at home increases the risk of illnesses, and is compounded by the fact that security forces are not allowing people to leave their homes to seek care.

Sources in southeastern Turkey have described the severe consequences on the civilian population of the attacks, round-the-clock curfews, and restrictions on the mobility of medical and rehabilitation staff. PHR supports calls by Turkish activists for international monitors to ensure adherence to international norms regarding security operations, including safeguarding health services and health workers in conflict situations.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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