An international nurses’ union representing more than 2.5 million healthcare workers worldwide issued a statement late Tuesday accusing Russia of committing war crimes during its assault on Ukraine, a weeks-long military campaign that has included attacks on dozens of hospitals and other medical facilities.
“The latest such attack, the bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, has left at least three dead, including a child, and many wounded,” noted Global Nurses United (GNU), which forcefully condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and expressed “solidarity with the nurses and other healthcare professionals of Ukraine who are struggling mightily to provide care during this unprovoked invasion.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has documented at least 31 attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24. In a recent report, Amnesty International noted that “the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been marked by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and strikes on protected objects such as hospitals.”
“These heinous attacks constitute war crimes and must not pass as unfortunate events taking place in the fog of war,” GNU said Tuesday. “We fully support the WHO’s statement that ‘attacks on healthcare violate international law and endanger lives. Even in times of conflict, we must protect the sanctity and safety of healthcare, a fundamental human right.'”
“Nurses and healthcare workers confront trauma and uncertainty when providing care during the best of times, and now our sisters and brothers face targeted military strikes as they treat war casualties and others too sick to flee,” the group continued. “In this war of choice, Global Nurses United calls upon the Russian government to choose an immediate ceasefire, ensure the safe passage of those displaced by the fighting, engage in diplomacy in good faith, and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.”