Aid Group: NATO Broke Geneva Conventions

A Swedish aid group says NATO forces violated the Geneva Conventions when they stormed an Afghan medical facility and used it as a jail and command center.

In October, the NATO and Afghan soldiers knocked down walls, damaged doors, windows, examination beds and other equipment at the facility, run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in Wardak province, the group said.

For the next 2 1/2 days, the troops brought dozens of prisoners through the clinic, used the space as a jail and logistics hub, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Thursday.

"It puts us in jeopardy because [local people], of course, question the neutrality of the healthcare delivered, and it also puts us in problems with opposition groups who believe we have alternative agendas," said Andreas Stefansson, the Swedish Committee's country director.

Stefansson said aid groups throughout Afghanistan felt their efforts to provide medical services to Afghan civilians is being undermined because of regular abuse of their buildings by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"Most NGOs [non-governmental organizations] who deliver healthcare in this country experience this almost on a monthly basis; that there are breaches in different provinces, where the Afghan National Army, or ISAF, or special forces basically don't show the level of respect they should for health facilities," he said. "We are getting quite fed up with it."

The Swedish Committee met with ISAF commanders, who said the occupation of the clinic was unintentional, but acknowledged it breached international laws. ISAF officials said "actions will be taken" to avoid similar takeovers.

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