WHO gathers evidence for possible war crimes probe against Russia

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

WHO emergency director Mike Ryan, during an unannounced visit with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a press conference that it was the explicit responsibility of the warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities, but the WHO had already documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in the country.

“Intentional attacks on health facilities constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and as such – based on the investigation and attribution of the attack – amount to war crimes in all situations” , Ryan said.

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“We continue to document and testify to these attacks…and we hope that the United Nations system, the International Criminal Court and others will conduct the necessary investigations to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks.”

Russia has denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western countries of possible war crimes and also denied targeting civilians during the war.

Ryan said the 200 cases did not represent all of the attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, only those that the WHO had verified. kyiv said there have been around 400 such attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Russian troops had destroyed or damaged nearly 400 health facilities in Ukraine.

Tedros said at the same press conference: “My message to all the people of Ukraine is: ‘WHO is on your side’… We continue to call on the Russian Federation to stop this war. “

WHO member states will consider a resolution against Russia on Tuesday that includes the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow, a document obtained by Reuters revealed last Thursday.

The draft resolution stalls ahead of tougher sanctions such as Russia’s suspension from the UN’s global health agency board, as well as a temporary freeze on its voting rights, said three diplomatic and political sources.

The draft, prepared largely by EU diplomats and submitted to the WHO Regional Office for Europe this week, follows a request from Ukraine signed by at least 38 other members, including Turkey. , France and Germany.

Moscow calls its actions since February 24 a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say that Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

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