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Military Field Hospitals: Civilian Casualties

Volume 636: debated on Tuesday 27 February 2018

In all combat operations the Ministry of Defence does everything it can to minimise the risk to civilians through our rigorous targeting processes and the professionalism of the armed forces. We recognise, however, that there is always the risk of inadvertent civilian casualties, particularly in complex and congested urban environments.

The Ministry of Defence places a significant value on the preservation of life, both to our own forces and also to civilians. When a field hospital is deployed in support of either combat or humanitarian operations, our armed forces regularly and indiscriminately treat civilian cases, to save life, limb or eyesight. This lifesaving work deserves to be acknowledged.

Recognising the important work being done by a number of UK-registered charities, including Every Casualty Worldwide, Save the Children, and AirWars, to ensure that all lives lost to armed violence anywhere in the world are properly recorded, the Ministry of Defence is making a commitment to increase transparency by publishing the number of all civilians admitted to UK military field hospitals. This information will detail the following:

Type of civilian (e.g. UK civilian, local civilian, detainees. The split by type of civilian varies depending on the nature of the operation)

Casualty type (e.g. battle injury, non-battle injury, disease/natural causes)

Disposal (e.g. death in hospital, discharged home, discharged to another hospital)

The information provided will be counts of casualties and not details of individuals (names etc.).

The Ministry of Defence hopes that the release of this information will provide the public with an informed picture of the efforts the UK Government take while undertaking operations to provide urgent medical care to civilians.