Updated May 27, 2022 - World

WHO condemns Russia for mounting attacks on Ukraine health facilities

Picture of a destroyed Ukrainian hospital

A view of a heavily damaged hospital in Volnovakha city, one of the cities most affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on March 27, 2022. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 75 people have been killed and 59 injured in attacks on Ukrainian health facilities and personnel since Russia began its unprovoked invasion, according to World Health Organization data this week.

Driving the news: The WHO has verified over 240 attacks on Ukrainian health care since Feb. 24. On Thursday, it passed a resolution condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine, particularly on the country's health system.

The big picture: The resolution notes that Russia's invasion is "causing a serious impediment to the health of the population of Ukraine, as well as having regional and wider than regional health impacts."

  • It also urges Russia to "immediately" cease all attacks on health care facilities and to "fully respect and protect" personnel engaged in medical duties.

Between the lines: Russia had proposed a counter-resolution that expressed "grave concerns over the ongoing health emergency in and around Ukraine," but did not include its role in causing that emergency.

  • WHO member-states rejected the resolution.

What they're saying: "As children and families seek safety, the medical services they rely on must be protected," the WHO in Ukraine said on May 5.

  • "The disruption of health services across Ukraine has been catastrophic, compounded by displacement and the fact millions of people remain trapped in conflict areas unable to move," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a pledging conference for Ukraine this week.
  • "This puts health workers, care workers, services and infrastructure, and the health of millions of health workers at severe risk," he added.
  • "But even worse than disruptions to health services are attacks on health care. Let's be clear, attacks on health are a violation of international humanitarian law. This is utterly unacceptable."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information from the WHO.

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