May. 5, 2022

WHO Director-General's remarks at the High-Level International Donors’ Conference for UkrainePhoto

Co-hosted by the Government of Poland and the Government of Sweden, in partnership with the European Council, and the European Commission Warsaw, Poland
5 May 2022

Your Excellency Prime Minister Morawiecki,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Andersson,

It’s often said that the first casualty of war is truth.

The same saying could apply equally to health.

The disruption of health services across Ukraine has been catastrophic, compounded by displacement, and the fact that millions of people remain trapped in conflict areas, unable to move.

This puts health workers, care workers, services and infrastructure, and the health of millions of people, at severe risk.

We salute the nurses caring for newborns in hospital basements;

Ambulance drivers and paramedics rescuing people from bombed buildings;

Medical teams conducting surgery and delivering babies under fire;

You have seen it all.

But even worse than disruptions to health services are attacks on health care.

WHO has now verified 191 attacks on health care, with 75 deaths and 54 injuries.

Hospitals. Clinics. Ambulances. Health workers. Patients.

Let’s be clear: attacks on health are a violation of international humanitarian law – this is utterly unacceptable.

WHO has more than 80 staff in Ukraine, supported by hundreds more in neighbouring countries and around the world.

Prior to the conflict, WHO was working with the Ministry of Health to prepare for the worst-case scenario, pre-positioning supplies in hospitals.

Within days of the Russian Federation’s invasion, we sent in medical supplies, trauma kits and more from our logistics hub in Dubai, mobilising also millions of dollars.

So far, we have delivered more than 316 metric tonnes of medical supplies, supporting care for 7.5 million people, and more than 200 thousand surgeries.

We are also working in neighbouring countries to support the health needs of the more than 5 million refugees who have now fled Ukraine.

WHO supports proposals to provide solidarity trust fund, and we thank donors who have supported the response so far, and we hope donors will make this appeal today a success.

We call for human rights and international humanitarian law to be upheld, to allow for safe and sustained humanitarian assistance.

We call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for Mariupol and other encircled cities, to allow civilians to evacuate, and to allow WHO and our partners to deliver vital supplies and assess health needs.

We call on the Russian Federation to stop this war.

There is only one remedy for the disease of war: peace.

мир для України. Peace for Ukraine.

I thank you.