Ukraine war: Attacks on hospitals and ambulances 'increasing rapidly', says WHO

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By Euronews
An unexploded bomb in the yard of a military hospital in the town of Irpin, west of Kyiv.
An unexploded bomb in the yard of a military hospital in the town of Irpin, west of Kyiv.   -  Copyright  Credit: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP or licensors

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Ukraine's health system is under "severe pressure" amid the war with Russia.

The head of the WHO's Europe office says the number of attacks on hospitals and ambulances in Ukraine have increased rapidly in recent days.

Dr Hans Kluge told reporters that it had confirmed 16 separate attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities since 24 February.

Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for WHO Europe, added these attacks have led to at least nine deaths and 16 injuries.

"It should go without saying that health workers, hospitals and other medical facilities should never be targeted, even during crises and conflicts," Kluge stated.

The UN body has also warned that Ukraine is running short of vital medical supplies but has “remarkably” maintained its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kluge said on Tuesday that the number of deaths due to the coronavirus would "sadly increase" due to oxygen shortages and broken supply lines.

The WHO has been working to provide Kyiv with oxygen, insulin, personal protective equipment, surgical items and blood products, he told the briefing.

Kluge stressed the importance of establishing "safe" corridors for humanitarian aid to reach those in need during the war.

"A second priority is to ensure that neighbouring countries have the infrastructure and expertise in place to meet the urgent health needs of those arriving," he added.

An estimated two million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion, says the UN's refugee agency.

Additional sources • AP