At least 100 attacks on health care facilities have now been recorded in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Describing it as a “grim milestone,” the WHO said it has verified a total of 103 attacks on health infrastructure in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, including 89 attacks that have impacted health facilities and 13 that have impacted transport, including ambulances.
Defined as "any act of verbal or physical violence or obstruction or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access and delivery of curative and/or preventive health services," attacks on healthcare facilities are prohibited by international humanitarian law, signed under the first Geneva Convention in 1864. Despite this, hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure are frequently targeted in armed conflict. Since January 1, 2022, the WHO has documented at least 160 attacks on healthcare in 11 countries and territories.
“Across Ukraine, 1,000 health facilities are in proximity to conflict areas or in changed areas of control,” Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine, said in a statement. “Health workers throughout the country are risking their lives to serve those in need of medical services, and they, and their patients, must never be targeted. Further, when people are prevented from seeking and accessing health care, either because the facilities have been destroyed or out of fear that they may become a target, they lose hope. The mental health toll wreaked by the war cannot be underestimated, affecting civilians and the health workforce alike."
“We are outraged that attacks on health care are continuing. Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law,” added Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, at a press conference.
“Peace is the only way forward," he continued. "I again call on the Russian Federation to stop the war.”