Russian attacks on Ukrainian health workers, hospitals amount to war crimes: report – National

As the Ukrainian people mark the harrowing anniversary of a brutal year of war and devastation, new data sheds light on the particularly gruesome impact of Russia’s attacks on health facilities and workers.

Since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, over 700 attacks have targeted hospitals, medical facilities and staff.according to data verified by five organizations Active in Ukraine.

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their report entitled Destruction and devastation: A year of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s health system It chronicles the harsh reality facing Ukrainian health workers and patients as medical facilities are repeatedly hit by missiles and attacks.

Dozens of doctors, nurses and other medical staff who valiantly provide care have died or been injured. Others were threatened, imprisoned, taken hostage and forced to work under Russian occupation, the report said.

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Ukrainian firefighters work in the maternity ward of a damaged hospital in Vilnyansk, Zaporizhia region, Ukraine, Wednesday, November 23, 2022. A Russian rocket has hit the maternity wing of a hospital in eastern Ukraine, killing a newborn and seriously injuring a doctor. (AP Photo/Kateryna Klochko, File).


This has made access to life-saving medical care almost impossible for Ukrainians in some areas, the report said.

In some cases, evidence documenting what appeared to be targeted attacks against civilian infrastructure, medical facilities, and medical personnel indicates that Russian forces violated international humanitarian law. These crimes should be prosecuted in both national and international criminal courts, says Christian De, director of research and inquiry at Physicians for Human Rights, one of the groups that edited and wrote the report. Vos said.

“Attack on health … illegal under the Geneva Conventions,” he said.

“These are war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.”

In total, there will be 707 documented attacks against health facilities, clinics, ambulances and medical personnel in 2022, a grim tally equivalent to at least two attacks on health every day in the past year. , says De Vos.

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“These are shocking numbers…the scale is truly amazing.”

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Data shows that between February 24th and December 31st, 2022, 292 attacks were recorded that damaged or destroyed 218 hospitals and clinics. Many medical facilities were attacked multiple times.

There were also 65 documented attacks against ambulances and 181 documented attacks against other medical infrastructure such as pharmacies, blood centers, dental offices and research centers.

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A total of 86 attacks on health care workers were recorded, killing 62 health care workers and injuring 52 others.

According to the report, one-tenth of Ukrainian hospitals were directly affected by the attacks, with the eastern regions of Kharkov, Donetsk and Luhansk, and Kherson and Kiev being the worst hit.

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In some cities and towns, almost all medical facilities were damaged in some way.

A woman walks outside a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. A maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol has been severely damaged by the Russian attack, Ukrainian officials say. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka).


48 hospitals were attacked multiple times in 10 regions of the country. According to De Vos, this statistic shows not only the indiscriminate nature of the attacks, but also the possibility that the attacks were deliberately targeted.

For example, the Severodonetsk Municipal Multi-Profile Hospital in Luhansk was attacked 10 times between March and May 2022, the report said. Another hospital in Kharkov attacked him five times.

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Bare destruction in downtown Mariupol

These attacks have had a “devastating” impact on Ukrainian access to healthcare, De Vos said.

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“Beyond the physical damage inflicted on hospitals and medical vehicles, there are so many cascading effects from attacks on health … public fear and fear,” he said.

“They also make it more difficult for civilians to access critical medicines, vaccinations, treatments for chronic diseases and the regular, ongoing care needed to ensure good health. It has a direct impact on access to healthcare.”

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Lyubov Sumatilo, an analyst for the Media Initiative for Human Rights who also worked on gathering evidence for the report, said one in three Ukrainians are now malnourished as a result of attacks on health facilities and workers. He said he could not get treatment.

She said she was moved to tears by the stories of doctors interviewed by researchers who told her harrowing stories of survival.

“We want Russia to be held accountable for the crime,” she said in an interview with Ukraine’s Global News.

She pointed to evidence that some hospitals can clearly see their status symbols as internationally recognized medical centers (a red cross on a white canvas) from above. It was still under attack from Russian missiles, the report cites first-hand eyewitness testimony.

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“They don’t care that all this is prohibited by international humanitarian law,” Smachylo said.

Human rights groups that have collected and documented these attacks are calling on the international community to hold Russia accountable.

“Attacks on healthcare are so devastating, and there is so much disrespect to them, in particular, simply because they have unfortunately been historically poorly investigated and well prosecuted. There is a gap in punishment.

“We will prioritize these attacks for further investigation and prosecution, and create cases that may ultimately lead to accountability for these violations.”

who Ukrainian health ministers recently recorded more than 1,200 facilities directly or indirectly damaged and 173 hospitals damaged beyond repair. said.

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— with files from The Associated Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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