THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has registered a total of 72 attacks targeting Ukrainian healthcare facilities since Russia launched its war on February 24. According to the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Healthcare (SSA), of the 72 attacks, 58 impacted facilities, 11 transportation, 16 personnel, 10 patients, eight supplies and one impacted a warehouse. There were a total of 71 deaths and 37 injuries as a result of these attacks, the SSA added. “We are concerned that this number is increasing daily,” Jarno Habicht, the WHO’s Ukraine country representative, told the BBC. “Health facilities should be safe places for both doctors and nurses, but also patients to turn to for treatment. This should not happen.” Since the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is an international armed conflict between two States, the Geneva Conventions apply.
Expanded in the aftermath of the Second World War, the conventions set out the basic rights of civilians and military personnel, and establish protection for the wounded and sick. They were ratified by what was then the Soviet Union in 1954, the BBC reported. 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”. A breach of that rule can be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague and, if found to be a war crime, individual perpetrators can be prosecuted and punished. The latest attack on a hospital in Ukraine took place on March 8. A newly-refurbished Central hospital in Izyum city was hit by shells, which were of Russian origin, said Ukrainian authorities.