The heads of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) have urged Russia to stop the attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare facilities.
This was disclosed in a joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented by the World Health Organization. These incidents have killed and injured civilians, as well as destroyed facilities and ambulances, disrupting access to essential health services.
What they are saying
The heads of UNICEF, the WHO and UNFPA called for an immediate cessation of all attacks on health care in Ukraine.
“Today, we call for an immediate cessation of all attacks on health care in Ukraine. These horrific attacks are killing and causing serious injuries to patients and health workers, destroying vital health infrastructure, and forcing thousands to forgo accessing health services despite catastrophic needs.”
The global organisations’ leaders said that to attack the most vulnerable – babies, children, pregnant women, and those suffering from illness and disease, as well as health workers risking their safety to save lives – is “an act of unconscionable cruelty”.
The report stated that since the start of the war, more than 4,300 births have occurred in Ukraine, with 80,000 women projected to give birth in the next three months, despite the fact that oxygen and medical supplies, particularly those for the management of pregnancy difficulties, 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…International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld, and the protection of civilians must be our top priority”, the UN top officials warned.
- They also stressed the importance of humanitarian partners and health care workers being able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, such as immunization against COVID-19 and polio, as well as the provision of life-saving medicines to civilians across Ukraine and refugees crossing into neighbouring countries.
- “UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO are working with partners to scale up life-saving services and support to meet urgent health needs. We must be able to safely deliver emergency medical supplies – including those required for obstetric and neonatal care – to health centres, temporary facilities and underground shelters”, they highlighted.
Dr. Natalia Kanem (UNFPA), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus (WHO) and Ms. Catherine Russell (UNICEF) also called for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ with unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.