British troops wounded in Afghanistan are having to share wards with Taliban fighters

* It happens in Britain too: UK: Muslim threatens injured soldier in hospital

Has anything been done about it?

British medics wheel a casualty to the operating theatre at a joint forces field hospital in Afghanistan.   

British medics wheel a casualty to the operating theatre at a joint forces field hospital at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS

Troops have arrived at the advanced medical facility at Camp Bastion in Helmand province and found themselves lying alongside their enemies.

Injured Taliban are routinely treated at the Camp Bastion Field Hospital in line with the Geneva Convention.

“My friends who were injured were waking up in the hospital to find Taliban in the bed next to them,” a serving soldier told the BBC.

“A lot of people are getting injured out there, and the last thing they want to see when they come round is the Taliban on the same ward. It’s just not right.”

“We should treat the Taliban wounded as we treat our own”

Another said they were “appalled” by the practice, adding: “I know we have to treat them under the Geneva Convention, but no one should have to wake up in the same place as someone who may have injured them or their mates.”

The Ministry of Defence said the same level of care was provided for all patients at the Camp Bastion Field Hospital.

“This does sometimes include local nationals and enemy forces,” a spokesman said.

“They are guarded at all times, segregated where possible, and nursed behind screens to afford all patients the necessary level of care, protection and dignity.

“We provide medical care under the Geneva Convention and are subject to inspections from the International Red Cross.”

Lieutenant General Louis Lilywhite, surgeon general, said he had never heard complaints about the practice from those who had been treated.

He said: “When people first come in they’re usually extremely seriously injured and the number of very critical beds that are available to treat them are very limited.

“So they could well wake up to find – lying the next bed to them – a critically injured enemy combatant.

“It is the only way we can do it and it’s the only way we’ve ever done it.”

He continued: “I see our injured, I’ve seen them in Camp Bastion, I see them back at Selly Oak, and indeed I see them later when they’re at Headley Court.

“On every occasion I ask them whether there are any issues that have troubled them and I then address those.

“No one has ever complained to me about being treated in a hospital where there is the Taliban. I’ve not had any complaints so far.”

Lieutenant General Lilywhite added that as soon as an injured Taliban patient begins to recover, they are placed in an area of the ward where they can be screened off.

Under the terms of the Geneva Convention, all Armed Forces have a duty of care towards injured prisoners of war, and should offer them the same level of treatment as their own forces.

During the Second World War, it was not uncommon for POWs to be treated on the same wards as injured British forces.

In all, 141 British servicemen and one British servicewoman have died during the campaign in Afghanistan since 2001.

The head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, earlier this week called for a re-organised larger Army to help it cope with the current strains put on military families by deployments abroad.

*****

MoD defends hospital treatment for Taliban/Update

• UK troops complain about sharing ward with enemy
• Practice follows Geneva convention, say officials

WTF has the Geneva convention to do with Islamic terrorists and enemy combatants? They are to be shot on the battlefield, not treated next to our soldiers. What kind of idiotic BS is this?

Ministry of Defence officials last night defended the decision to treat wounded Taliban fighters alongside UK troops in hospital wards in Afghanistan, after complaints from British soldiers.

In emails sent to the BBC, soldiers objected to being treated on the same wards as militants at a field hospital in Camp Bastion, in Helmand province. One soldier said he was appalled that wounded troops were waking up in the same place as the people who may have injured them or their friends.

But defence officials said the decision to treat enemy combatants was in line with the Geneva convention. “Everyone is treated the same, they have to be under the Geneva conventions. It has always been this way,” one said.

A spokesman for the MoD said any militants treated at the hospital were guarded at all times. “UK Med Group provide the same level of medical care to all casualties at the Camp Bastion field hospital and this level of care is second to none.”

He added: “This does sometimes include local nationals and enemy forces. They are guarded at all times, segregated where possible, and nursed behind screens to afford all patients the necessary level of care, protection and dignity. We provide medical care under the Geneva convention and are subject to inspections from the International Red Cross.”

Under the Geneva convention, armed forces have a duty of care towards enemy prisoners.

Article 30 of the convention makes provision for medical treatment and requires every camp to have an “adequate infirmary where prisoners of war may have the attention they require.”

The convention also states that “prisoners of war suffering from serious disease, or whose condition necessitates special treatment, a surgical operation or hospital care, must be admitted to any military or civilian medical unit where such treatment can be given, even if their repatriation is contemplated in the near future”.

The practice of treating enemy combatants in the same hospital as that of injured military personel has happened before in Afghanistan, where British forces have been deployed since 2001, and in Iraq, but it is thought to be rare occurrence. It was also not unknown during the second world war. The complaints made by some of the soldiers at Camp Bastion have caused puzzlement in army circles, who believe there is no alternative.

The surgeon general, Lieutentant General Louis Lilywhite, the most senior medical officer in the British army, said: “I see our injured, I’ve seen them in Camp Bastion. On every occasion I ask them whether there are any issues that have troubled them and I then address those. No one has ever complained to me about being treated in a hospital where there is the Taliban. I’ve not had any complaints so far.”

Lilywhite said that British service personnel, enemy forces and Afghan civilians would continue to be treated at the hospital under the terms of the Geneva convention.

2 thoughts on “British troops wounded in Afghanistan are having to share wards with Taliban fighters”

  1. Nothing suprises me any more, all you hear about on the bbc is “the geneva convention”, which is bloody great if both sides work to it. Coming to the tyburn tree in the near future, limb amputations and head chopping…

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