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UN Calls Reported Mariupol Hospital Attack in Ukraine A ‘Horror’

“In less than two weeks, at least 37 children have been killed and 50 injured, while more than one million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, said UNICEF head Catherine Russell

Mariupol Hospital
An injured woman was carried on Wednesday from a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, which was hit by a Russian strike. Photo Credit- Evgeniy Maloletka/ AP

The exodus of millions of Ukrainians to neighbouring countries due to the ongoing military invasion of Russia in the country could overwhelm these countries, warned the UN humanitarians on Wednesday, as the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), while expressing her horror over the reported destruction of a maternity hospital in the stricken coastal city of Mariupol witnessing heavy bombardment for days.

To date, more than 2.2 million people have fled Ukraine says the UN refugee agency UNHCR; most have found shelter in Poland and more than 2,00,000 have reached Hungary. Slovakia has taken in more than 1,50,000 people from Ukraine since 24 February.

Latest estimates from UN aid agencies suggest that four million refugees are likely by the end of the war, which represents about 10 per cent of Ukraine’s population.

The refugee crisis has worsened after Wednesday’s news alerts about a Russian strike on a children’s hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol, which left children buried under the rubble, according to Ukrainian officials.

The bombing has not been independently verified, but the UN is investigating the “shocking” reports.

In a tweet, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described reports of the attack as “horrific”, noting that civilians were paying “the highest price, for a war that has nothing to do with them. This senseless violence must stop.”

Catherine Russell, UNICEF chief, in a statement, said she was “horrified by the reported attack…an attack which reportedly left young children and women in labour, buried beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings. We do not yet know the number of casualties but fear the worst.”

“This attack, if confirmed, underscores the horrific toll this war is exacting on Ukraine’s children and families” she added. “In less than two weeks, at least 37 children have been killed and 50 injured, while more than one million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that so farWHO has verified 18 attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including 10 deaths and 16 injuries.

“These attacks deprive whole communities of health care,” he said.

So far, WHO has delivered 81 metric tonnes of supplies. The UN health agency is now establishing a pipeline of supplies for health facilities throughout Ukraine, especially in the most affected areas, Tedros added.

“Yesterday, we delivered five metric tons of medical supplies to Kyiv to support surgical care for 150 trauma patients, and other supplies to manage a range of health conditions for 45,000 people for a month. More supplies will be distributed today, and we have 400 cubic metres of supplies waiting to be transported to Ukraine, from our logistics hub in Dubai.”

The UN health agency chief said some of the main health challenges beyond surviving airstrikes and bombings, were hypothermia and frostbite, respiratory diseases, lack of treatment for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and mental health issues.

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