Health Care in Danger: Respecting and Protecting Health Care

Name: Ms. Ana Pereira
Position: Legal counsellor at the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal
Email: ana.costapereira@mne.pt


The Portuguese Red Cross and the Armed Forces have signed several protocols establishing cooperation in the fields of training and support of survival in emergency situations at national and international levels and healthcare.

The protection of healthcare personnel and facilities was one of the subjects of the public conference “Humanitarian Assistance and the Protection of Civilians in Situations of Armed Conflict– Current challenges” (jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Red Cross and held on 7 April 2017), attended by members of the Armed Forces and representatives from the Ministry of National Defense.

Portuguese military officers receive training on International Humanitarian Law throughout their instruction and career: as part of basic instruction at the military academies and when they attend preliminary courses for the promotion to the ranks of superior officer (rank of major and above) and general officer (major-general and above). Special training on protection of the wounded and sick and healthcare services is also provided prior to their deployment to international operations. Engagement rules designed for each operation and mission take the rules and principles of International Humanitarian Law into consideration.

Committed to protect and rehabilitate children who have been the victims of armed conflict, Portuguese authorities – such as the Service for Foreigneers and Borders (from the Ministry of Internal Administration) and the Commissions for the Protection of Children and Youngsters (from the Ministry of Justice) – have worked, in close collaboration with the Portuguese Red Cross and relevant NGOs (e.g. Portuguese Refugee Council), to create and adequately run shelter houses for refugee children and other unaccompanied minors, promoting their full integration in society and investing into their dignified life plans.