The World Health Organization Is Gathering Information In Preparation For A Possible Inquiry Into Russian War Crimes
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in Kyiv on Saturday that it is gathering evidence for a future war crimes inquiry into Russian strikes on healthcare institutions in Ukraine.
On an unannounced visit with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan told reporters that it was the explicit obligation of warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities, despite the WHO having documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in the country.
“Intentional attacks on healthcare facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and as such – based on investigation and attribution of the attack – represent war crimes in any situation,” Ryan said.
“We continue to document and bear witness to these attacks … and we trust that the U.N. system and the International Criminal Court and others will take the necessary investigations in order to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks.”
Russia has refuted allegations of suspected war crimes made by Ukraine and Western countries, as well as allegations that the war is targeting civilians.
The 200 examples, according to Ryan, do not represent all attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, but only those that the WHO has confirmed. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Kyiv claims there have been roughly 400 such attacks.
Tedros told the same news conference: “My message to all the people of Ukraine is this: ‘WHO stands by you’ … We continue to call on the Russian Federation to stop this war.”
According to a document acquired by Reuters last Thursday, WHO member nations will consider a resolution against Russia on Tuesday, which may involve the closure of a key regional office in Moscow.
According to three diplomatic and political sources, the draught resolution does not include tougher consequences such as suspending Russia from the United Nations’ global health agency’s board of directors or freezing its voting rights temporarily.
The proposal, which was mostly drafted by EU diplomats and submitted to the WHO’s regional office for Europe this week, comes in response to a request by Ukraine, which was signed by at least 38 other countries, including Turkey, France, and Germany.
Moscow has been conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine since February 24 to disarm the country and cleanse it of anti-Russian nationalism fueled by the West. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of launching an unjustified aggression campaign.