A report by eyeWitness to Atrocities, Insecurity Insight, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Media Initiative for Human Rights, and Ukrainian Healthcare Center (UHC) organisations recorded numerous attacks by the Russian army on Ukrainian healthcare facilities starting on 24 February 2022. In general, as of December 31, 2022, researchers recorded at least 707 attacks on the healthcare system of Ukraine.

During the first weeks of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine’s healthcare system was under constant daily attacks. The attacks were especially intense in February and March. An average of four to five hospitals and clinics were attacked daily in the first two weeks of the invasion alone.

Attacks of various intensity continued throughout the year, with 235 attacks on healthcare overall in March and an average of 47 attacks each month from April through December 2022. Over the entire period studied in the report (24 February – 31 December 2022), there was an average of more than two attacks on healthcare daily.

  • There were 292 documented attacks that damaged or destroyed 218 hospitals and clinics. Many health facilities were attacked more than once.
  • There were 65 documented attacks on ambulances.
  • There were 181 documented attacks on other health infrastructure (e.g., pharmacies, blood centers, dental clinics, research centers, etc.).
  • Eighty-six attacks on healthcare workers were documented, with 62 health workers killed and 52 injured.
War Ukraine

Many other healthcare workers were threatened, imprisoned, taken hostage, and forced to work under Russian occupation. One in 10 of Ukraine’s hospitals has been directly damaged by attacks, with the heaviest destruction in the eastern Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, as well as in the Kherson and Kyiv regions. In some cities and towns, nearly all the health facilities were harmed in some way. In Mariupol, in the southern part of the Donetsk region, almost eight out of 10 points of healthcare service provision, sites where medical assistance is available, were either damaged or destroyed.

Targeting functioning healthcare infrastructure and workers in an armed conflict and carrying out indiscriminate attacks that affect civilian infrastructure – including hospitals and clinics – are war crimes. When committed as part of a state policy on a widespread or systematic basis, such attacks are also crimes against humanity.

Natalia Tolub

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