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UK receives Ukraine child patients amid condemnation of "unconscionable cruelty"

Monday March 14th 2022

Some 21 children from Ukraine have arrived in the UK to continue their cancer treatment amid concern about the widening humanitarian catastrophe in the country, it has been announced.

The British government said it had responded to requests from Poland for relief for its overcrowded hospitals, following the transfer of many patients from Ukraine.

International condemnation of the Russian invasion and the brutal suppression of urban centres and barely restrained attacks on hospitals continued to grow as the conflict intensified over the weekend.

World Health Organization director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined UNICEF last night in condemning attacks on health care as “unconscionable cruelty.” WHO says it has now confirmed 31 attacks on facilities with 12 deaths and 34 injuries.

It says that 4,300 women have given birth in Ukraine since the invasion began.

Call for an immediate ceasefire, in a joint statement WHO and UNICEF said: “WHO is verifying further reports, as attacks continue to be reported despite the calls for protection of health care. Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services – especially women, children and other vulnerable groups.

“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening.

“International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld, and the protection of civilians must be our top priority.

“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunization against COVID-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries. Health services should be systematically available at border crossings, including rapid care and referral processes for children and pregnant women.

“It is critical that humanitarian actors have safe and unimpeded access to reach all civilians in need wherever they may be.”

The chief executive of the UK’s Royal College of Emergency Medicine Gordon Miles said: “Attacks on health facilities are an absolute redline, they must be condemned and must cease immediately. Patients and medical workers in areas engulfed by conflict must never be targeted or be allowed to become collateral damage as part of wider war and violence.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The situation in Ukraine is deeply shocking and saddening, and the NHS will continue to help in any way we can, whether that is by working with Government to provide medical supplies directly to Ukraine, or in this instance, by making sure these children with life-threatening cancers get the crucial treatment they need.

“It is fantastic that colleagues at paediatric hospitals around the country have gone above and beyond to help these children during their greatest hour of need and I would like to thank the NHS staff, volunteers, charities and other partners involved who have come together to make this happen at breakneck speed.”

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am appalled by the atrocities we’ve seen in Ukraine and the despicable attacks being carried out on innocent civilians.

“I am proud that the UK is offering lifesaving medical care to these Ukrainian children, who have been forced out of their home country by the Russian invasion while undergoing medical treatment.

“I know that the incredible staff in the NHS will ensure they get the best possible care. I am hugely grateful to our partners and our Polish friends for their support in bringing these children to the UK.”

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | Europe | UK News

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