• WHO has documented 43 attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities in Ukraine.
  • The attacks are prohibited under international law.
  • A WHO official said the strikes are intended to achieve "the destruction of hope."

The World Health Organization has documented 43 attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities in Ukraine since the Russia invasion,

At least 33 attacks have involved violence with heavy weapons, meaning armed forces attacked using firearms, tanks, missiles, bombs, or mortars.

"The health system in Ukraine is teetering on the brink," Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO's health emergencies program, said at a press conference on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

Ryan described attacks on medical facilities as an effort to achieve "the destruction of hope."

WHO has not attributed blame for the attacks, but public evidence suggests, that the Russian military is responsible for a much of the violence. 

On March 9, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of striking a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Russia, without evidence, has claimed the attacks were "false flags" carried out by Ukrainian forces. But observers say Russia has deliberately targeted medical infrastructure in previous conflicts as part of a strategy to demoralize the civilian population.

In Syria, Russia and its allies have conducted at least 244 attacks on medical facilities since 2011, according to data from the group Physicians for Human Rights.

The striking of medical facilities is prohibited under international law, with the Geneva Convention stating that hospitals "may in no circumstances be the object of attack."

"It's shocking to behold the wanton destruction the innocent people of Ukraine have faced since Putin's war of aggression began," Christian De Vos, director of research and investigations at PHR, said in a statement.

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