LONDON (AP) — Members of the World Health Organization’s European region have condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, which could lead to the move of one of the agency’s offices from Russia and the suspension of all meetings there until Moscow withdraws its troops. Ukraine withdraws.
In a statement following a resolution passed Tuesday, countries in the WHO’s European region said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation in Ukraine “caused by the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine”. More than 40 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, voted in favor of the declaration, while Russia, Belarus and Tajikistan voted against.
The resolution states that WHO must do “everything possible to support the government in Ukraine” and the possible relocation of the United Nations Health Organization’s Moscow-based European Office for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases to consider moving to another country. It also asked the WHO’s European director to consider temporarily suspending all meetings in Russia until the country withdraws its armed forces from Ukraine.
To date, the WHO has confirmed more than 200 attacks on health facilities and first responders in Ukraine, killing at least 75.
After a recent trip to Ukraine, where he spoke to health professionals and victims of the invasion, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that “Ukraine really needs more than anything else, is peace,” and he appealed to Russia. to stop his war.
Still, some academics doubted the European resolution would have much impact.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights at Georgetown University, called it “a weak rebuke that will not bother” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Instead, he called on the WHO to remove Russia’s voting rights at the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s annual meeting of its member states, scheduled for later this month.
“It is absolutely within the powers of the World Health Assembly to suspend the Russian vote,” said Gostin, who said the suspension should be based on Russia’s violation of international law by attacking health facilities and blocking humanitarian corridors.
“This wouldn’t be political, but it would be related to the WHO’s core business of protecting health,” he said, adding that the agency has previously suspended the voting rights of countries, particularly South Africa’s during the apartheid era.
Gostin said the move wouldn’t stop the war, but was still worth the effort.
“It would be a very strong statement from the entire global community and it could at least give Putin a break from continuing to blatantly attack hospitals and health workers and disallow humanitarian corridors.”
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