The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that there had been over seventy attacks which were separately reported on hospitals, ambulances and doctors in Ukraine, with the number increasing on a “daily basis.”
From the day since Russia began the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the WHO has reviewed and verified 72 separate attacks on hospitals in Ukraine, causing at least 71 deaths and 37 injuries. As per data revealed by WHO, over 300 health facilities are along conflict lines or in areas that Russia now controls, and another 600 facilities are within ten kilometres of the conflict line.
Apart from damaged hospitals, medical vehicles and supply stores, the WHO has also recorded the “probable” abduction or detention of the healthcare staff and patients.
The Geneva Conventions involved in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as it is an international armed conflict between two states. Under Article 18 of the Conventions, civilian hospitals “may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected”.
The International Criminal Court can investigate a breach of this rule in The Hague. If the investigation rules that a war crime has been committed, individual perpetrators can be prosecuted and punished.
The World Health Organisation is concerned that attacks on medical facilities are fast becoming part of the wider “strategy and tactics” of modern warfare, regardless of the Geneva Conventions rules.
On Wednesday, in an address, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan stated that, “We have never seen globally, this rate of attacks on healthcare.” Since the beginning of 2022, the WHO has confirmed 89 attacks on healthcare in ongoing conflict zones around the world.