WHO condemns attack on Kirkuk doctor following death of 70-year-old woman

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday strongly condemned the recent attack on a medical practitioner who was physically assaulted while providing medical care to a critically-ill 70-year-old female at the Azadi Teaching Hospital located in the disputed province of Kirkuk.
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ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday strongly condemned the recent attack on a medical practitioner who was physically assaulted while providing medical care to a critically-ill 70-year-old female at the Azadi Teaching Hospital located in the disputed province of Kirkuk.

The attack took place on Feb. 18 after some people delivered the 70-year-old to the hospital who suffered from a stroke and was then pronounced dead.

Relatives who arrived with her then began to beat the doctor, named Manaf Rafie Yassin, blaming him for her death. Photos posted to social media after the incident showed that Yassin was severely beaten.

“WHO calls on the authorities in Iraq to ensure the safety of health workers, health facilities, and the sanctity of health care,” Adham Rashad Ismail, acting WHO Representative in Iraq, said in a statement.

“Such attacks constitute a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law and deprive the most vulnerable population of children, women, and the elderly of their right to essential health services,” he added.

WHO’s statement comes after Iraqi activists launched a campaign in defense of Yassin on social media, calling for an end to violence against doctors and health workers in the country.

The elderly patient's relatives beat Manaf Rafie Yassin at Kirkuk's Azadi Teaching Hospital. (Photo: Social Media)
The elderly patient's relatives beat Manaf Rafie Yassin at Kirkuk's Azadi Teaching Hospital. (Photo: Social Media)

Health care workers and health facilities in Iraq have been under attack since the crisis escalated in June 2014. In 2018 alone, 42 attacks on health care facilities were recorded in the country, of which 40 percent were against health workers, according to WHO.

The organization also underlined that Iraqi’s, including displaced populations, host communities, and returnees continue to require essential, lifesaving, and trauma services, and it is imperative the Federal Government of Iraq ensures health workers are allowed to work at all times without risk, regardless of location, and that patients and health facilities are protected.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany