July 9, 2024

SAMS strongly condemns yesterday’s attack on the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine’s largest pediatrics facility, killing a doctor and injuring seven children among other casualties. The blast caused major damage at the hospital where 600 children were being treated at the time of the hit.

“It was a scary morning with explosions right above our heads,” said SAMS representative in Kyiv, Vitaly Kartamyshev, who witnessed the Kyiv attacks, part of a barrage of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine on Monday, killing at least 40. Vitaly said these numbers may increase because there could be children under the debris of the hospital. “Another sad day in Ukraine,” he said.

Since the invasion by the Russian Federation in February 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) has verified 1,700 attacks on healthcare in Ukraine, resulting in 130 deaths and 300 injuries of medical personnel and patients.  SAMS’ partner, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), has documented 80 attacks that have affected children’s healthcare, including 55 attacks that destroyed or damaged children’s hospitals.  

“Yesterday’s attack on children in Kyiv was beyond the pale,” said SAMS’ President Dr. Mufaddal Hamadeh. “Striking convalescing and ill children is inhumane, and the loss of medical personnel means that this blow will multiply the impact on civilian patients in the future.”

Since the onset of the war, SAMS has provided medical support in Ukraine, including the delivery of medical supplies and volunteers, mass-casualty preparedness training for 38 frontline hospitals, and mental-health support for frontline medical personnel.

“SAMS denounces these attacks on our medical brethren in Ukraine as we do for those in Syria, Gaza, Sudan, and beyond,” said Dr. Hamadeh of SAMS which has had 62 staff killed in the over 600 attacks on medical facilities in Syria’s war, some by Russia. “The world mourns when the caregivers of the most vulnerable among us are deliberately targeted.”

SAMS calls for accountability of all the attacks on healthcare in Ukraine and for the protection of Ukraine’s healthcare workers as required under International Humanitarian Law. With no exceptions, the same accountability standards should be applied to all perpetrators, using the same standards. SAMS urges the international community to continue providing humanitarian relief, especially healthcare, to the millions of Ukrainian civilians impacted by this conflict for the last 2.5 years.

“We are calling on the international community to deliver a clear and unequivocal message,” Dr. Hamadeh said, “that medical facilities should be respected, protected, and off limits regardless of any pretexts in accordance with international humanitarian law.  Yet morosely, attacks on healthcare are only growing.”

Just last week, SAMS decried the closure of the largest, remaining hospital in Gaza, deserted and left for looters after staff and patients fled as a result of an evacuation order in its surrounding area. Since the advent of the conflict in Gaza last October, the WHO has recorded 443 attacks on health facilities in Gaza. And the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that more than 493 healthcare workers have been killed.

SAMS is a nonprofit, non-political organization that works on the front lines of crisis relief, providing medical and humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in Syria, its neighboring countries, and beyond.  Last year, SAMS provided lifesaving medical services to 3.6 million people.