NEW YORK – Medical experts and human rights advocates condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s reported bombing of a hospital’s maternity ward and children’s clinic in Mariupol, Ukraine on Wednesday. The following statement is attributable to Christian De Vos, JD, PhD, director of research and investigations at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR):
“Physicians for Human Rights is appalled by Russia’s bombing of a children’s clinic and maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine and calls on the Russian Federation and President Vladimir Putin to end their military aggression in Ukraine, and to respect the inviolability of medical facilities as protected zones under international humanitarian law.
“Thirteen days into this unlawful invasion, the World Health Organization has verified at least 18 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine, with reports of new attacks escalating by the day. These indiscriminate assaults on hospitals and other civilian objects are in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. It is also a tactic Russia has honed in other wars. From Chechnya to Syria, Putin-led Russian forces have used the targeting of health care facilities and personnel as a weapon of war – shamelessly violating international law, killing untold numbers of innocent civilians, and leaving tens of thousands in dire need of medical care. PHR data has traced at least 244 attacks on medical facilities to Russian or Syrian government forces since 2011.
“It’s shocking to behold the wanton destruction the innocent people of Ukraine have faced since Putin’s war of aggression began. They are tragically now experiencing the same fear and panic felt by Syrians, who have seen their cities, neighborhoods, and health care facilities systematically torn apart by the targeted bombings of Russian forces in partnership with the Syrian government over more than a decade of conflict. Russia’s brutal history of consolidating power through military action is a clear warning – these horrific attacks on civilians and critical health care infrastructure are a brazen and unambiguous violation of international humanitarian law. The perpetrators must be stopped and must be held accountable for their crimes.”
Additional PHR and partner resources on the Ukraine crisis:
- PHR resource page: Russian Invasion of Ukraine
- Insecurity Insight brief: “Violence Against or Obstruction of Health Care in Ukraine,” February 24 – March 2, 2022.
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.