Statement by Bob Kitchen, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Vice President for Emergencies on the Wednesday attack on a maternity hospital in Vilniansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region where IRC has provided health donations, which according to the official reports cost the life of a newborn baby.

“The tragic images of rescuers working at the site of a maternity ward we saw this morning illustrate that women and children continue to pay the highest price for this war. No child should be born under a barrage of missile strikes. No child should die buried in rubble remaining from hospitals, where their mothers seek safety and protection.

“This attack is part of a dangerous global trend of increasing attacks on health in conflict which all too often are committed with impunity. Hospitals are not a target. Health facilities are protected under international law and should be safe havens in times of crisis and conflict. 

“As the fighting and violence move into Ukraine’s densely populated areas, we witness a daily loss in critical civilian infrastructure, which is particularly worrying in light of the upcoming winter. Our teams and local partners have entered a race against time to help people in Zaporizhzhia and other heavily conflict-affected areas to prepare for winter, but we cannot effectively deliver critical assistance under a barrage of missile strikes.”

The IRC launched an emergency response to the war in Ukraine in February 2022, working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. In Ukraine, we are focusing our response in the conflict-affected areas in the east and southeast. We are distributing essential non-food items, providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, improving access to health care, and providing a variety of tailor-made protection services, including safe spaces for women and children. In the Zaporizhia oblast, IRC has provided four health donations to date, supplying medical trauma kits and pharmaceuticals to local health departments.
Our emergency programmes are also active on the ground in Poland and Moldova. Responding along the entire arc of the crisis, we are running  activities targeting Ukrainian refugees in Romania,  Hungary,  Slovakia,  Czechia and Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece and the UK. 

For questions or to arrange interviews, please contact Joanna Nahorska at [email protected].