On February 24, the first day of the war in Ukraine, a Russian attack on a hospital in the eastern town of Vuhledar killed four people and injured 10 others. The following day, elsewhere in Ukraine, a cancer center and a children’s hospital were hit.
And attacks on the country’s health care infrastructure have continued to occur, at the rate of at least two a day, according to some accounts – hospitals, clinics, maternity wards, a retirement home, a cancer treatment centre. drug addiction, a blood bank.
As of May 9, the Ukrainian Healthcare Center, a consulting firm in Kyiv, had documented 165 cases of healthcare facilities damaged during the war, and the World Health Organization identified some 200 such attacks.
In the video essay above, Pavlo Kovtoniuk, co-founder of the consultancy and former Ukrainian deputy health minister, explains that the attacks have sown psychological terror and devastated the country’s health system.
“It all sounds cruel, inhuman and deliberate,” he says.
It may be up to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as well as other tribunals and ad hoc war crimes tribunals, to determine whether the attacks on Ukrainian hospitals and medical personnel constitute war crimes.
But Mr. Kovtoniuk has already made up his mind.
“Evidence of potential war crimes will take years to gather,” he says. “But I don’t have to wait that long to know that what I see every day is a murderous pattern.”