WHO assembly slams Russian attacks on Ukraine health facilities

GENEVA – WHO member states strongly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine and attacks on healthcare facilities in a resolution overwhelmingly adopted on Thursday (May 26), further isolating Moscow on the international stage.

The resolution was carried by 88 votes to 12 at the World Health Organisation’s annual assembly, while a Russian counter-resolution on the health crisis in Ukraine – making no mention of its invasion – fell flat.

The outcome “sends a clear signal to the Russian Federation: stop your war against Ukraine. Stop attacks on hospitals,” said Ukrainian ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko.

“The World Health Assembly that the responsibility for the health crisis in Ukraine rests exclusively with the Russian Federation,” Filipenko said.

The adopted resolution said it “condemns in the strongest terms” Russia’s “military aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on healthcare facilities”.

It urged Russia to “immediately cease any attacks on hospitals” and other healthcare sites.

The resolution was brought by Ukraine and co-sponsored by nations including the United States, Britain, Japan, Turkey and European Union countries.

Of the 194 WHO member states, 183 had the right to vote. Eighty-eight voted in favour and 12 against, with 53 abstentions and 30 countries absent.

The resolution said the war was seriously impeding access to healthcare in Ukraine and having wider health implications across the region.

It urged Russia to respect and protect all medical and humanitarian personnel as well as the sick and wounded, in line with international law.

The resolution also called for safe, rapid and unhindered access to people in need of help, and the free flow of essential medicines and equipment.

Diplomatic isolation

The WHO has verified 256 separate attacks on health care in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb 24. The WHO said 75 people have died and 59 have been injured.

It said 212 attacks involved heavy weapons.

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