Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on the bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol

10 March 2022

The bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol is an egregious act, turning cradles into graves in an instant. I condemn such a blatant contempt for international humanitarian law and the protection of innocent civilians.  

To besiege a hospital, to rain bombs down on babies, children and expectant mothers, on health staff trying to protect lives, is an act of cruelty for which there can be no justification.

At a moment when new life is beginning, what should be a moment of joy - giving birth, was instead overshadowed by death and destruction, horror and fear. International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld and the protection of civilians - wherever they are - must be our top priority

Women and girls have a right to life-saving healthcare, and health workers and facilities must never be targeted. 

I urge the international community to commit the resources needed to support and protect women and girls.

All humanitarian actors must be able to reach people with the support and services they desperately need. 

What they need, above all, is peace. 

I echo the Secretary-General's calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine. 

This war must stop now.

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