Healthcare

WHO warns of increasing attacks on Ukraine health care facilities

Demonstrators march along the street in Odessa, Ukraine
Associated Press/Emilio Morenatti

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that more than a dozen health care facilities in Ukraine have been attacked in the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.

On its website, the WHO confirmed 16 attacks against health care facilities between Feb. 24, when Russia invaded the country, and March 3, but did not identify the aggressor behind the attacks.

Assaults against those health care facilities have led to at least nine deaths and 16 injuries, according to the WHO.

The organization said on Twitter it was still working to verify more incidents.

“WHO strongly condemns attacks on health care facilities and personnel. Attacks on health care violate [international] law & endanger lives,” the organization wrote on Monday. “Even in times of conflict, we must protect the sanctity & safety of health care, a fundamental human right. Health care is #NotATarget.”

At a news conference on Monday, Catherine Smallwood, the WHO senior emergency officer for Europe, said the attacks verified by the organization include those against ambulances being used for other purposes than emergency medical care, according to Reuters.

“We will continue to update those numbers,” Smallwood said, according to the news outlet. “They’ve been increasing quite rapidly over the past few days.”

The WHO has also warned about low oxygen supplies in Ukraine, which it says is affecting thousands of people during the crisis.

The organization is “working to ensure a supply of oxygen-related medical devices and trauma treatment supplies,” with an expected 20 to 25 percent surge in oxygen supply needs after the invasion.

Tags ambulances health care facilities Healthcare facilities invasion Russia Russia-Ukraine Ukraine WHO World Health Organization
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