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Russia’s Bombing of Ukraine’s Largest Children’s Hospital Part of Systematic Assault on Health Care: PHR

Russia’s attack today on Okhmatdyt National Children’s  Hospital in Kyiv – the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine – continues the systematic assault on Ukraine’s health care system, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said. 

“Russia’s strategy in Ukraine includes attacking babies and children. Domestic and international actors should intensify efforts to hold perpetrators accountable for these war crimes,” said Uliana Poltavets, PHR’s Ukraine emergency response coordinator. 

At least 1442 attacks on health care facilities, workers, and other medical infrastructure have been documented by PHR and its partner organizations since Russia’s full-scale invasion of  Ukraine in February 2022. From February 22, 2022 until April 13, 2024, researchers have documented 79 attacks that affected children’s health care, including 54 attacks that destroyed or damaged children’s hospitals.  

“Today’s devastating attack on the largest children’s hospital is emblematic of Russia’s onslaught against Ukraine’s health care system. Again and again, we have witnessed Russian forces attack vulnerable patients, health workers, and hospitals across the country,” said Poltavets. 

Since February 2022, Russian forces have perpetrated both targeted and indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine’s health care facilities, amongst other civilian objects like energy infrastructure, constituting a gross violation of international law. PHR research has established a reasonable basis to believe that these attacks constitute war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity as well. 

Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces fired at least 40 missiles at sites across the country Monday, resulting in the deaths of at least 50 people.  

Okhmatdyt National Children’s Specialised Hospital is the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine, serving more than 20,000 children annually. Monday’s missile attack struck a medical building at the hospital where children were receiving dialysis, while also damaging the intensive care, operating, and oncology departments, according to the Minister of Health of Ukraine. The strike destroyed the toxicology department and the entire hospital is now without electricity, preventing the use of ventilators and other urgent care, according to the United Nations. The death toll from the attack on Okhmatdyt National Children’s Specialised Hospital is not immediately clear. 

At least seven people were reported dead after an additional attack today on the ADONIS medical center in Kyiv. The ISIDA medical center, one of the largest women’s health and family planning centers in Ukraine, was damaged in the same attack. At least 60 attacks have affected maternal health care, including 38 attacks that have destroyed or damaged maternal health facilities. 

PHR continues to call on domestic and international prosecutors, including the International Criminal Court, to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of attacks on health care.

Editor’s Note: A previous version stated that at least seven people were reported dead after an additional attack at the ISIDA medical center in Kyiv. However, these deaths occurred at the ADONIS medical center which is located in the same building as the ISIDA medical center. 

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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