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WHO report on Ukraine health emergency sparks U.S., Russia row

2023-02-04T15:21:03Z

(Reuters) – The United States and Russia faced off on Saturday over a World Health Organization report on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with Moscow saying it was politically motivated and Washington calling for it to be swiftly updated.

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FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, December 14, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s report was presented to the organisation’s executive board, on which both Russia and the United States sit.

It covered events in the first nine months of 2022 and classed the situation in Ukraine, which Russia invaded on Feb. 24, as one of eight acute global health emergencies.

The report documented more than 14,000 civilian casualties, with 17.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 7.5 million Ukrainian refugees displaced across Europe.

Of 471 attacks with heavy weapons on healthcare facilities globally, 448 occurred in Ukraine, the WHO report said.

Russia’s representative to the WHO board called it politicised and one-sided and described its references to Ukraine as unfounded accusations.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine since it began what it calls a special military operation, which has also devastated Ukraine’s cities, killed thousands of combatants and shaken the global economy.

Sheba Crocker, U.S. representative to the United Nations, called for an updated report to document incidents in Ukraine since September.

“Russia’s attacks … have caused unspeakable harm to civilians and critical infrastructure in Ukraine,” she told the board meeting, according to a statement from her office.

“…This senseless death and destruction falls brutally on children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups’ access to vital health care,” Crocker added.