Mar 13, 2022 - World

WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA call for end to attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine

Maternity hospital in a bomb shelter, ukraine

A newborn baby is seen in the bomb shelter of a maternity hospital on March 2 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)=

The United Nations Children's Fund, the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization issued a joint statement Sunday calling for an "immediate cessation of all attacks on health care in Ukraine."

Driving the news: Russian forces have deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, over the course of their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

  • The WHO estimates that there have been 31 attacks on Ukrainian health facilities since the start of the war, according to the joint statement.
  • Russian shelling in the besieged city of Mariupol earlier this week destroyed a children's hospital that also housed a maternity ward. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack was "proof that the genocide of Ukrainians is taking place."

What they're saying: "To attack the most vulnerable — babies, children, pregnant women, and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives — is an act of unconscionable cruelty," the statement read.

  • The 31 attacks on health facilities have "led to at least 12 deaths and 34 injuries, and affected access to and availability of essential health services."
  • “More than 4,300 births have occurred in Ukraine since the start of the war and 80,000 Ukrainian women are expected to give birth in the next three months. Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low."
  • “The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening."

The bottom line: "Health care and services should be protected from all acts of violence and obstruction," the statement said.

  • "We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”
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