Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Liashko has accused Russian authorities of committing a crime against humanity by blocking access to affordable medicines in areas his forces have occupied since the invasion of the country began five and a half months ago.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the official said Russian authorities have repeatedly blocked efforts to provide state-subsidized medicines to residents of occupied cities, towns and villages.
“Throughout the six months of war, Russia has not (allowed) adequate humanitarian corridors so that we could provide our own medicines to patients who need them,” Liashko said, speaking at the Health Ministry in Kiev.
“We believe that this is an intention of Russia and we consider them crimes against humanity and war crimes that will be documented and recognized,” the minister said.
The Ukrainian government has a program that provides medicines to people with cancer and chronic diseases. The destruction of hospitals and infrastructure, along with the displacement of around 7 million people inside the country, have also interfered with them receiving their treatments, according to the United Nations (UN) and Ukrainian officials.
According to the organization, since the beginning of the war there have been 445 attacks on hospitals and other health centers, resulting in 86 deaths and 105 directly wounded.
But Liashko said the side effects are much more serious: “When roads and bridges are damaged in areas now controlled by Ukrainian forces, it is difficult to bring a person who has suffered a heart attack or stroke to the hospital,” he said.
He added: “Sometimes, we can’t get there on time, the ambulance can’t arrive on time. That is why war causes far more casualties than those killed in fighting. It’s a figure that can’t be calculated.”Start the conversation