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World Health Org Gathers Evidence of War Crimes For Possible Investigation Against Russia

World Health Org Gathers Evidence of War Crimes For Possible Investigation Against Russia

The World Health Organization (WHO) is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation into attacks it says it has documented by Russia on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, representatives said in Kyiv on Saturday.

During an unannounced visit together with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan held a news conference and told reporters it was the “explicit responsibility of warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities”, yet the WHO had already documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in the country. Ryan said those cases did not represent the totality of attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, only those the WHO had verified. Kyiv has said there have been around 400 such attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western nations of possible war crimes and has also denied targeting civilians in the war, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Russian troops had destroyed or damaged nearly 400 healthcare institutions in Ukraine.

The WHO stated it will consider a resolution against Russia on Tuesday that includes the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow. Prepared largely by EU diplomats and submitted to the WHO’s regional office for Europe this week, the draft follows a request by Ukraine signed by at least 38 other members including Turkey, France, and Germany.

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So far, the draft resolution stops short of harsher sanctions such as suspending Russia from the U.N. global health agency’s board, as well as a temporary freeze of its voting rights. As WHO Chief Tedros said during the 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.”

 

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