Humanitarian Assistance In War

To harm or help
Rahman Mohamed

Whether or not the confrontations are allowed in the world they’re there. And they occur in a global community that has international laws, international laws that define who you can and can’t harm and how you treat the harmed.

Some of these laws come from the Geneva Convention of 1949.

On August 12, 1949 nations of the world met in Geneva Switzerland to sign a treaty.

Convention (I) For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and the Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 1949 outlines how each army should treat those of each party that aren’t participating in combat.

According to this, persons who aren’t  participating in combat are defined as:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces including those who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognised as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), may offer its services to the parties to the conflict.  Voice of America reported that in ICRC’s 2012 annual report in which Syria “moved up from fifth place in 2012 to become the agency’s costliest operation this year

During a war each party’s goal is to injure and eliminate as many of the other as possible. To be victorious someone must have more soldiers than the opposing side and the leaders must admit defeat.  Obviously it’s easier to kill someone when that person is wounded.  But according to the protocol of the Geneva Convention the injured of the opposing army shouldn’t be harmed; they should be cared for, treated humanely and given a second chance; you should help them live and return to the other side.

According to this statement, if you injure a soldier you’re against or he surrenders, you must treat him as an equal, just as you’d treat your neighbour. You may have to help him improve his health if a humanitarian aid party isn’t present, regardless of the fact that you might in his land trying to take it or he might in your land trying to conquer it for some unknown reason.

Can somebody really do this?  Rather, should one be made to?

While you’re doing this, helping the injured guy, you might be trying to take the life of someone on the opposite side, and might both be looking at each other with hate because you both already fulfilled this duty by taking the life of a best friend or overtaken a hometown.

These laws are being violated today in the Syrian War.  With mass killings, not only are Syrian soldiers and rebels being killed but local residents of towns and cities are being murdered.

It was recently reported that “A man and a 15-year-old boy were killed by stray bullets shot from Syria into a Turkish border town

In July BBC reported UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Mon stated “More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria”, one that is considered an underestimation.  In addition “1.7 million Syrians have been forced to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.”  The UK-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says ‘it believes that its statistics are an underestimate as “both sides do not reveal the true total of human losses”.

This was before the world confirmed their knowledge that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its people.  Now nations are seriously considering military action.

How can anyone help if there’s a never-ending unknown to how many they have to help?


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