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MSF ambulance damaged after attack in Selydove

Repeated attacks on hospitals in Ukraine take a tragic toll on lives and infrastructure

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  • Attacks on two MSF-supported hospitals in the space of a week in Ukraine have collectively claimed the lives of four people.
  • As a result of the increased insecurity and damage to the two hospitals, our teams have been forced to temporarily suspend our activities.
  • We condemn these attacks and call for the protection of medical facilities and personnel.

Kyiv – On Monday 20 November, two missiles hit a hospital in Selydove, Donetsk region of Ukraine, where five Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff were present. Although no MSF staff were harmed, eight people inside the hospital were injured, including two Ministry of Health staff. Tragically, three people have been reported killed when part of the hospital collapsed from the missiles. MSF condemns this attack on a hospital, the second in a week, and once again calls for the protection of medical facilities.

“At around 11:30 pm, we began hearing explosions. Initially, they seemed distant, but gradually they approached,” said Artem Tretiakov, an ambulance driver with MSF. “Suddenly, a missile struck the room where myself and other MSF staff were present. Fortunately, the impact was on the corner of the room, which is likely what saved us.”

After the attack, our team immediately began providing first aid for those injured inside the hospital. An additional intensive care ambulance and emergency team were also dispatched to the hospital in Selydove to provide further support.  

“All the lights in the hospital premises went out. We proceeded to the corridor and enquired about anyone needing assistance,” said Dr Yevheniia Mitiaieva, an MSF doctor at the hospital. “Using flashlights and mobile phones, we provided first aid, making makeshift bandages.”

These attacks continue to put the lives of healthcare staff at risk and jeopardise our ability to deliver critical medical treatment to patients in dire need. Medical facilities are supposed to be places where lives are saved, not taken. Vincenzo Porpiglia, MSF head of mission in Ukraine

“An 80-year-old patient was in critical condition. He had multiple wounds from window glass that shattered during the explosions,” continued Dr Mitiaieva. “After our initial treatment, we transferred him in one of our ambulances to another hospital for further medical care.”

The hospital in Selydove sustained severe damage from the attack. Two MSF ambulances based there were also damaged, which are part of an ambulance system that has transported more than 10,600 patients – 62 per cent of whom experienced violent trauma – since May 2022.

“The blast wave shattered the ambulance windows,” explained Tretiakov. “Despite this, the vehicles remain operational and once the glass is replaced, we will resume our work.”
 
This is the second attack within a week on a hospital in Ukraine where MSF is present. On Monday 13 November, a hospital in Kherson region was targeted with artillery. The attack destroyed 150 windows and badly damaged the emergency department where MSF worked. Three people were injured, and a Ministry of Health staff member died from injuries sustained during the attack.

“We utterly condemn these abhorrent assaults on hospitals, which have resulted in the tragic deaths and injury of patients and medical personnel,” said Vincenzo Porpiglia, MSF head of mission in Ukraine. “These attacks continue to put the lives of healthcare staff at risk and jeopardise our ability to deliver critical medical treatment to patients in dire need. Medical facilities are supposed to be places where lives are saved, not taken.”

MSF has been working in the emergency room and intensive care unit of the hospital in Selydove since July 2023 and in the emergency room in the hospital in Kherson since October this year. Due to the insecurity and extensive damage to the buildings, we have been forced to temporarily suspend our presence inside these hospitals. However, we are committed to continuing to support with ambulance referrals. MSF teams continue to work in the emergency department and provide surgical care in other hospitals in Donetsk and Kherson regions, as well as conducting mobile clinics in areas close to the frontlines where there is limited access to healthcare services.

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Project Update 29 December 2023