PHR Executive Director Saman Zia-Zarifi Delivers Statement on Ukraine at the 53rd session of UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council 53rd Session, Oral Statement on Ukraine (res. 47/22) and interim report of the Secretary General on human rights in Crimea (GA res. 77/229), 12 July 2023

Speaker: Saman Zia-Zarifi, Executive Director

Oral Statement as Delivered:

Physicians for Human Rights wishes to echo the High Commissioner’s concerns about Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine. In the last 15 months, almost 1,000 attacks have been perpetrated against Ukraine’s health system, amounting to an average of two attacks per day. These include destruction of hospitals and ambulances and the arbitrary detention and torture of medical professionals. At least 56 attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have severely limited the ability of health care facilities to remain operational. In 2022, Ukraine accounted for over one-third of all reported attacks on health globally. Russia’s war in Ukraine has worsened health, exacerbated the demographic crisis, reduced affordability of medicines, and disrupted access to health care in both liberated and temporarily occupied territories.

Russian armed forces have destroyed Ukraine’s health system both deliberately and indiscriminately. We concur with the UN Commission of Inquiry’s conclusion that these attacks constitute war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity. The overwhelming evidence demands justice, including reparations for the $2.5 billion in estimated damages to the health care system.

Mr. High Commissioner, what progress has been made in investigating and prosecuting these attacks on health care in Ukraine?

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