Russia-Ukraine War: WHO Calls For Ceasefire, Access To Healthcare

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a press conference on the situation regarding the COVID-19 at Geneva's WHO headquarters on February 24, 2020. - Fears of a global coronavirus pandemic deepened on February 24 as new deaths and infections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia triggered more drastic efforts to stop people travelling. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
The director-general, World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on the Russian government to cease fire, explore all options for peace in a bid to end the war with Ukraine and make situations conducive for the wounded, sick, aged, women and children to get access to healthcare and treatment.

The WHO director-general, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, made this call while speaking at the High-Level International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine, today, co-hosted by the governments of Poland and Sweden, in partnership with the European Council and the European Commission Warsaw, Poland.

Ghebreyesus said WHO has more than 80 staff in Ukraine, supported by hundreds more in neighbouring countries and around the world. Also, he disclosed that before the conflict, the health body worked with the ministry of health to prepare for the worst-case scenario and pre-positioning supplies in hospitals.

“It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. The same saying could apply to health. The disruption of health services across Ukraine has been catastrophic, compounded by displacement and the fact that millions of people remain trapped in conflict areas, unable to move.

“This puts health workers, care workers, services and infrastructure, as well as the health of millions of people at severe risk. We salute the nurses caring for newborns in hospital basements, ambulance drivers and paramedics rescuing people from bombed buildings and medical teams conducting surgery and delivering babies under fire. You have seen it all. But worse than disruptions to health services are attacks on health care,” he said.

Ghebreyesus mentioned that the WHO has now verified 191 attacks on health care, with 75 deaths and 54 injuries.

“Let’s be clear: attacks on health are a violation of international humanitarian law – this is utterly unacceptable.

“Within days of the Russian Federation’s invasion, we sent in medical supplies, trauma kits and more from our logistics hub in Dubai, mobilising millions of dollars. So far, we have delivered more than 316 metric tonnes of medical supplies, supporting care for 7.5 million people and more than 200 thousand surgeries.

“We are also working in neighbouring countries to support the health needs of the more than 5 million refugees who have now fled Ukraine. WHO supports proposals to provide a solidarity trust fund and we thank donors who have supported the response so far. We hope donors will make this appeal today a success.

“We call for human rights and international humanitarian law to be upheld, to allow for safe and sustained humanitarian assistance. We call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for Mariupol and other encircled cities, to allow civilians to evacuate and to allow WHO and our partners to deliver vital supplies and assess health needs.

“We call on the Russian Federation to stop this war. There is only one remedy for the disease of war: peace,” he added.

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