New York, NY, March 9, 2022 — In response to Russia’s bombing of a children’s hospital and maternity ward in besieged Mariupol today, David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, “The bombing of a children's hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine is a horrifying testament to illegality and impunity as well as inhumanity. The IRC condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms, alongside the targeting of evacuation corridors, the breaches of ceasefires and the sieges of urban areas that have been widely reported. This conduct speaks to a global syndrome where the age of impunity reigns supreme.
“Obligations under international humanitarian law are absolute when it comes to ensuring that civilian life and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals are protected and humanitarians have unfettered access to those in need of assistance. Also clear is that any and all violations of IHL must be investigated and perpetrators held to account. The UN Human Rights Council vote to create a Commission of Inquiry to monitor and investigate violations of international humanitarian law is significant, but it must be stood up quickly and resourced meaningfully. And with the UN Security Council tied in knots, it is vitally important that UN bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly fill the accountability vacuum.
IRC’s response activities are targeting individuals displaced within Ukraine and into Poland. Because of the fluid situation, the IRC has identified partners with diverse geographic response capacities within Ukraine and Poland. Initial locations will be Lublin, Poland and the oblasts of Western Ukraine that we currently understand to be receiving the highest numbers of displaced persons. With these donations, through our partners, the IRC is reaching several of the groups most impacted by the conflict, including: people unable to leave areas of acute fighting, people who have been displaced into western Ukraine, people displaced into Poland without formal assistance, and people whose only option is to seek shelter in government reception centers.
In the initial phases of our response, through partners IRC is providing information services through an existing hotline, offering legal counseling and psychological support, and will facilitate access to services (through social workers, interpreters, and cultural assistants) to displaced people. The IRC is also looking to provide essential items to those that have become displaced according to individual needs. This includes blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes, and access to groceries and essentials and cash where possible.