Russia hit a psychiatric hospital in the northeastern region of Kharkov as health workers evacuated patients, Ukrainian officials said.
Doctors tried to evacuate the sick when Russia began shelling the hospital in the village of Strilecha, Kharkiv governor Oleh Synyehubov said in a Telegram statement on Sunday.
Four medics were killed in the attack, while two patients were injured, Synyehubov said, citing preliminary data.
About 30 patients were evacuated, but more than 600 remained in hospital, the official added.
“We extend our deepest condolences and respect. These are the actions of heroes! Unfortunately, the Russians stop at nothing – war criminals and terrorists!” said Synyehubov, according to a machine translation of his statement.
Russia carried out 226 strikes against healthcare targets in Ukraine during the early months of its invasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in May.
Heavy weapons were used in most attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities, the organization said earlier.
According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “[i]Deliberately targeting… hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are received, provided they are not military targets,” is considered a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
“Attacks on healthcare are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a disturbingly general tactic of war – they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they destroy hope. They deprive already vulnerable people of the care that is often the difference between life and death. Healthcare is not a target and should never be a target,” said Jarno Habicht, WHO representative in Ukraine.
The Russian armed forces have repeatedly claimed that the hospitals they destroyed in Ukraine were used for military purposes.
An investigation by the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle into 21 Russian attacks on medical facilities found no indication that legitimate military targets or combatants were present in or in the immediate vicinity of the facilities.
According to Pavlo Kovtonyuk, former deputy health minister of Ukraine, Russia may be systematically trying to destroy Ukraine’s medical infrastructure.
“The Russians are destroying health care here to terrorize civilians and enforce genocide through migration,” Kovtonyuk said in a report by the Atlantic Council, a US think tank.
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