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“Intentional attacks on healthcare facilities are a violation of international humanitarian law and represent war crimes in any situation,” declared Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO Emergencies Director, along with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, at a press conference held on 7 May 2022.
To monitor and disseminate reports on attacks on healthcare facilities, WHO has been empowered by the World Health Assembly (WHA Resolution 65.20) resulted in the World Health Organizations Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), which has already documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in Ukraine since the start of the war on 24 February. Of the total number of attacks, approximately 90 have impacted health facilities whilst more than 10 have impacted transport including ambulances. Unfortunately, as Dr Ryan said at the news conference, this number of cases of attacks on Ukraine facilities represents only those the WHO has verified, and the total number might be twice higher.
Dr. Jarno Habicht, WHO representative in Ukraine, also clarified that “Across Ukraine, 1000 hospitals and clinics are in proximity to conflict areas or changed areas of control therefore health workers throughout the country are risking their lives.”
The WHO continues to document and bear witness to possible crimes in collaboration with the UN system and ICC which is responsible to undertake compulsory investigations and assess the criminal intent behind these attacks.
At the same press conference, WHO chief Dr Tedros also announced the WHO message to all Ukrainians that WHO stands by them and that they continue to urge the Russian Federation to stop the war. investigation in Ukraine.