WHO gathers evidence for possible war crimes investigation against Russia

KYIV (REUTERS) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation into attacks it says it has documented by Russia on health care facilities in Ukraine, it said in Kyiv on Saturday (May 7).

WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan, on an unannounced visit together with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news conference 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.

“Intentional attacks on health care 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 UN 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 denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western nations of possible war crimes and has also denied targeting civilians in the war.

Ryan said the 200 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 Feb 24.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Russian troops had destroyed or damaged nearly 400 health care institutions in Ukraine.

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.”

Back To Top