A Social Media Act of Solidarity Against the Targeted Killing of Civilians and Humanitarians

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched a social media act of solidarity to stand up for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, patients, medical staff and hospitals in conflicts.

Close to 100 health structures belonging to or supported by MSF have been bombed since 2015, most of them in Syria. MSF's health workers and health structures have also been targeted in Yemen, South Sudan and Afghanistan, among other countries, causing intolerable suffering, death and destruction. And this is only the tip of the iceberg of reported attacks.

These horrific attacks contravene humanitarian law and have a catastrophic impact on people already made vulnerable by war and violence. When hospitals are bombed, civilians are often severely maimed or killed, and those who survive lose access to the medical help they desperately need.


Why are we launching the #NotATarget campaign?

  • To stand in solidarity with civilians, patients, medical workers and hospitals who continue to be targeted victims of attacks by armed groups around the world;
  • To highlight the horrific consequences of targeted attacks on people;
  • To demand the right of humanitarian workers to provide humanitarian care to people in need, particularly in conflict zones.

What Can You Do?

MSF is seeking to grow the public’s awareness around this issue. We encourage you to help us by participating in our #NotATarget social media campaign, and to take a stand in solidarity with innocent civilians and humanitarian aid workers around the world.

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Hospital bombings: MSF uses forensic architecture to hold perpetrators to account

All too often the only real redress available to MSF is to publicly denounce perpetrators of bombings in the hope that the damage to their image will incite them to modify their practices. Investigations use amateur photographs and video footage to help reconstruct the “crime scene”, which can prove very useful in supporting such denunciations. Using cartography, image analysis and legal and architectural expertise, research agency Forensic Architecture collects and analyses images taken of a crime committed by a state to establish the facts and ascertain who was responsible. MSF recently asked the agency to look into the airstrike of just over 12 months ago on Ma’arat Al Numan hospital in Syrian province Idlib.

MSF to Syrian Government: Stop Indiscriminate Bombing in Aleppo

MSF demands that the Syrian and allied governments stop the bombing that is provoking a bloodbath among civilians in the city. On September 28, 2016, just hours before the UN Security Council met to discuss the implementation of resolution 2268 on the protection of medical facilities, two more MSF-supported hospitals were seriously damaged by bombing and went out of service.

MSF President Dr. Joanne Liu: 'Stop bombing hospitals'

MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu, a physician from Montreal, addressed a meeting of the UN Security Council, and called upon member states to live up to their obligations and to stop the relentless assaults on civilian and medical targets. 

Yemen: Death toll rises from airstrikes on MSF-supported hospital

On August 15, 2016, three of the five patients hospitalized after an airstrike that hit a hospital supported by MSF in northwestern Yemen, died, raising the death toll from 11 to 14 people, according to the latest information gathered by the teams in Hajjah. This had been the fourth attack against an MSF-supported facility in Yemen in the last year. 

MSF-supported hospital in Syria bombed to the ground amid increased intensity of attacks

A busy MSF-supported hospital serving a population of 70,000 people was destroyed by aerial bombing in Millis town, Idlib Governorate, Syria on August 6, 2016. Four hospital staff and nine others - five children and two women - were killed in the two aerial strikes that hit the hospital directly and the two strikes that hit the immediate vicinity of the hospital. This comes in the midst of an escalation in intensity of conflict in Idlib Governorate.

'Stop the attacks': MSF president Joanne Liu calls on UN Security Council to protect civilians and hospitals in war zones

On May 3, 2016, Doctor Joanne Liu, the international president of  MSF, addressed the United Nations Security Council ahead of a vote on a resolution to reaffirm the protection of health workers, hospitals and civilian infrastructure in conflict zones. 

MSF's reaction to the US investigative report on the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan

The United States military released its investigative report on the attack on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3, 2015. The attack killed 42 people, including 14 MSF staff members, and wounded dozens more from sustained US airstrikes.

What can you do?

1. Spread the word on Social Media using the hashtag #NotATarget 

Make your voice heard and urge United Nations member states to support the strongest possible version of this resolution by sharing the following messages: 


  • Hospitals are #NotATarget! I believe access to medical care is a universal human right. 
  • Over 60 health facilities in Syria bombed in 2015. Unacceptable! Hospitals are #NotATarget 
  • Attacks on civilians & hospitals must stop! This cannot be the new normal! #NotATarget 


Copy and share the following in a Facebook message:

On average, an MSF-supported health structure was bombed or shelled every week in 2015 in Syria and in the first six weeks of 2016. MSF's health workers and health structures have also been targeted in Yemen, South Sudan and Afghanistan, among other countries, causing intolerable suffering, death and destruction.

This is unacceptable! Medical aid is #NotATarget. Join me in speaking out with MSF against these attacks. Hospitals are #NotATarget  www.msf.ca/NotATarget 

Download and share the video on your Twitter of Instagram account using the hashtag #NotATarget

2. Change your profile image on Twitter or Facebook in support: 

Add to Twitter | Add to Facebook


3. Take a photo of yourself and share the photo on your social media:

Print off one of the accompanying pictograms and hold it up for your camera. Share the image on social media with the hashtag #NotATarget.


























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Why Now?

The world has reached a disturbing tipping point in modern warfare. After World War II, hundreds of countries agreed to protect civilians by signing onto the Geneva Conventions

Today, these same countries are now ruthlessly bombing civilian targets. The states that signed the Geneva Conventions, including United Nations member states and members of the Security Council, no longer seem compelled to uphold international humanitarian law, which regulates just and proportionate warfare.

The February 2016 example in Syria, where an airstrike bombed an MSF-supported hospital, was presumably carried out by the Syrian or Russian military. Twenty-five people died, and thousands more no longer have access to emergency medical care. In 2015,  63 hospitals and clinics supported by MSF were hit by bombing and shelling in Syria more than 94 times – that’s on average more than once a week. In total, 23 MSF medical staff were killed, and 58 staff were wounded.

In Afghanistan, on October 3, 2015, the US military destroyed MSF’s hospital in Kunduz, killing 42 people – the highest number of staff and patients killed in a single incident in the history of the organization’s humanitarian work.

In Yemen, MSF medical activities were attacked four times in just three months between October 2015 and January 2016. The first attack took place on October 26, 2015, when fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition repeatedly bombed a hospital. On December 2, 2015, an MSF mobile clinic was hit by an airstrike, wounding eight people and killing one person nearby. On January 10, 2016, an attack on the MSF-supported Shiara hospital killed six people and injured at least seven, and on January 21 an MSF ambulance was hit and its driver killed in a series of airstrikes in Saada Governate.

Attacks also occur in other regions of the world. In Sudan, a hospital managed by MSF was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force on January 20, 2015, forcing the suspension of medical activities and thus cancelling medical care for thousands of Sudanese.

MSF cannot accept that this “new normal” should define modern warfare. The targeted killing of civilians, medical staff and patients cannot continue, regardless of which armed force or forces is responsible.

MSF is seeking to grow the public’s awareness around this issue. We encourage you to help us by participating in our #NotATarget social media campaign, and to take a stand in solidarity with innocent civilians and humanitarian aid workers around the world.

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