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 Human Rights Watch: Terrorists Threaten and Kidnap Medics and Steal Ambulances

Militant forces in eastern Ukraine have threatened medical staff, stolen and destroyed medical equipment and hospital furniture, and compromised the ability of civilian patients to receive treatment. The militants have also expropriated ambulances and used them to transport active fighters which is strictly prohibited under the laws of war.

According to Cennsor.NET Human Rights Watch published a report on medical apect of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

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"Pro-Russian insurgents' attacks on medical units and personnel are putting sick and vulnerable people and those who care for them at risk," said Yulia Gorbunova, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. "This appalling disregard of people who are sick or wounded can be deadly and needs to stop immediately."

Human Rights Watch has also documented attacks on hospitals by explosive weapons that killed at least two medical staff. While the circumstances suggest Ukrainian armed forces launched some of these attacks, further investigation is needed to determine responsibility.

Medical units are civilian objects with special protections under the laws of war. They include hospitals, clinics, medical centers and similar facilities, and ambulances and other medical transportation, whether military or civilian. Parties to a conflict must ensure that medical personnel are not endangered or harmed, and hospitals and ambulances are not attacked, damaged, or misused.

Through on-the-ground investigations in eastern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch found that insurgent armed fighters unlawfully expropriated and used ambulances to transport combatants, threatened medical staff, and damaged and stole medical equipment. Human Rights Watch also found that to secure treatment for their wounded, insurgents occupied hospital wards and buildings, compromising the safety of patients and staff and the treatment of civilian patients.

Human Rights Watch documented how insurgent forces unlawfully seized at least four ambulances in Sloviansk and used them to transport able-bodied armed fighters in Donetsk. A Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed ambulances in Donetsk transporting able-bodied armed fighters through the city.


Insurgents seized wards to treat wounded insurgent fighters in at least two hospitals: the Kalinin Hospital in Donetsk and the Lenin City Hospital in Sloviansk. In the Lenin City Hospital and in the Semyonovka psychiatric hospital, insurgents also stole or destroyed surgical equipment, furniture, and, in the Lenin City Hospital, patient files. While the laws of war do not explicitly prohibit requisition of civilian hospitals for treatment of wounded fighters, such requisition should not be detrimental to patients. In all cases, the wards were in regular use by the hospitals, and the seizure inevitably had a negative effect on the treatment of civilian patients, Human Rights Watch said.

 
 
 
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