UN concerned over Russia's 'systemic attacks harming health care structure' in Ukraine

UN concerned over Russia's 'systemic attacks harming health care structure' in Ukraine

'Intentionally directing attacks against protected hospital is war crime, and perpetrators must be held to account,' says official

By Merve Aydogan

HAMILTON, Canada (AA) - Acting UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Joyce Msuya, on Tuesday denounced a missile attack on a children's hospital in Ukraine’s capital, saying Russia's "systemic attacks harming health care and other civilian infrastructure across Ukraine" is a concern.

"I was particularly shocked by yesterday’s deadly missile strikes on Kyiv, Kryvi Rih, Pokrovsk and Dnipro, and other urban centers," Msuya told a UN Security Council (UNSC) session, noting that "there has been no respite for civilians in Ukraine amid continuing waves of attacks across the entire country" since last month.

Noting the alleged Russian attacks struck key energy infrastructures, she said the strikes have also inflicted severe damage to two of Ukraine’s main specialist hospitals for children and women in Kyiv.

"I echo the secretary general's, UN human rights high commissioner’s and others' strong condemnations of these deplorable attacks," she said.

Emphasizing the legal protections afforded to hospitals under international humanitarian law, Msuya said: "Intentionally directing attacks against a protected hospital is a war crime, and perpetrators must be held to account."

"These incidents are part of a deeply concerning pattern of systemic attacks harming health care and other civilian infrastructure across Ukraine," she said, adding that since the spring, the violence has intensified.

She said the broader effect of the attacks is devastating.

"More than 14.6 million people, about 40% of Ukraine’s population, require some form of humanitarian assistance; 56% of these people are women and girls," she said,

Msuya reported that more than 10 million Ukrainians urgently need mental health support.

Highlighting the impact on aid operations, she cited a recent strike near the UN office in Dnipro. She further voiced deep concern for 1.5 million people in inaccessible areas.

Despite receiving $887 million in funding, only 28% of the $3.1 billion required has been met, Msuya called on the Council to accelerate funding and support for the upcoming winter preparedness plan.

"Yesterday's attacks and their impacts are a reminder of the deplorable human toll of this war," Msuya said, as she urged all member states to ensure respect for international law and end the suffering and destruction.

- Russia accuses Ukraine of failing to follow proper protocol

Russia, who is the current term president for the Council, began the session by accusing Ukraine of failing to follow proper procedural protocol to take part in the Security Council.

"I want to underscore that we see no problems with allowing Ukraine to take part in the meeting as a country whose interests are affected by the topic. This is in accordance with the rules of procedure," said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Claiming that Ukraine attempted to "show that they stand above the rules" of the Council, Nebenzia said the Ukrainian delegation intended to "undermine the authority of the Security Council because the presidency is not just a country, but it's an institution."

While Ukraine's participation in the Council was immediately approved following a formal request by the US, Nebenzia voiced "regret" about Ukraine's failure to follow proper procedure to participate in a Security Council meeting without help from its "sponsor."

In response to Nebenzia, the Ukrainian envoy to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said, “You are not a legitimate president of the Security Council, and I will never address you as one.”

"You are sitting on the seat that Russia invaded illegally, and the only proper seat for you before you end up in hell bypassing purgatory is in the dock,” he wrote on X.

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