Statement Against Russian Aggression in Ukraine

Health facilities and healthcare workers in Ukraine have been attacked by all means of violence since the start of the Russian invasion. In just one month, the World Health Organization has reported 72 health facilities being directly affected by these attacks directed by the Russian military. The attacks included airstrikes on a maternity and children hospitals, including a facilty in Mariupol attacked on 9 March leaving three dead and many injured. The first 13 days of the invasion included 16 attacks on health facilities; the second 13 days included an additional 48 attacks, with an average of 2–3 health facilities being hit each day.

These attacks are war crimes. They explicitly violate international humanitarian and human rights law. Tragically, attacks on hospitals, patients, and healthcare workers are increasingly normalized as part of concurrent warfare, demonstrated in Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. In the Syrian conflict, Physcians for Human Rights have documented 601 attacks on 400 health facilities as of February 2022, most of which have been perpetrated by the Government of Syria and its allies, including Russia.

There is no excuse for these atrocities. The international community should prevent these attacks from becoming the new norms of warfare.

We, the academic researchers of healthcare in conflict settings, strongly condemn any form of aggression against healthcare. We call on the international community to stop these attacks on healthcare by all means and provide protection for healthcare in all conflict settings.

We praise the unwavering resolve of all those fighting against unlawful acts of terror and war, helping those in need, and risking their own lives.
These incomprehensible violations of international law and human rights are usually ordered by terror organizations, dictatorships, and totalitarian governments. But the leaders are not the only ones responsible; those who support their actions or silently accept them enable the continuation of these inhuman deeds.

We beseech each and every person, regardless of nationality, religion or locality to do everything in their remit to help the victims of violence and demand that attacks on healthcare cease immediately, with those responsible held to account. The continued impunity which those who are responsible for attacks on healthcare continues to set a dangerous precendent where the norms of International Humanitarian Law are disregarded.

Human life is sacrosanct. Protecting the victims of violence transcends all national strategic imperatives.

It is the shared responsibility of all of us as humans.

April 4, 2022

Aula Abbara,
Consultant in Clinical Infectious Diseases / General Internal Medicine, London
Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London
Co-chair Syria Public Health Network
Chair Health Professionals for Global Health, UK
Chair of Syrian American Medical Society Research Committee, US

Abdulkarim Ekzayez, Co-Investigator 
Research for Health Systems Strengthening in north west Syria
King’s College London

Kristen Meagher, Programme Manager and Researcher 
Research for Health Systems Strengthening in north west Syria
King’s College London

Agneta Kallström, PhD researcher
University of Eastern Finland

Hannu Juusola, professor of Middle Eastern studies
University of Helsinki

Jussi Kauhanen, professor of Public Health
University of Eastern Finland

Orwa al-Abdulla, PhD researcher
University of Eastern Finland

Mikko Häkkinen, PhD, principal lecturer
Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Jan Parkki, MD, MSc., independent researcher
Helsinki, Finland