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WHO raps Russia's attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine

The logo and building of the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, are seen on April 15, 2020. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, file)

GENEVA (Kyodo) -- The World Health Organization adopted a resolution Thursday condemning "in the strongest terms" Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, including its attacks on hospitals and other health care facilities.

    The Ukraine-led resolution does not contain any concrete measures such as suspending Russia's voting rights in the world health body. It calls on Moscow to stop the attacks on health facilities while urging protection for medical workers and people involved in humanitarian areas.

    The resolution was backed by 88 countries, including European countries, the United States and Japan. Russia, China, North Korea and Syria were among the 12 countries voting against the text, with 53 countries abstaining.

    Russia put forward its own resolution mimicking the language of the Western-backed text, but the draft jointly proposed with Belarus and Syria was rejected.

    The Russian representative criticized the Ukraine-led document as "politicized, one-sided and biased," arguing that it fails to mention what Moscow calls persecution carried out by Ukrainian authorities against the Russian-speaking populations of Donetsk and Luhansk.

    The WHO has confirmed 263 attacks on health care facilities and personnel in Ukraine, resulting in 75 deaths and 59 injuries.

    Voting on the resolutions took place in the context of a week-long meeting of the WHO's decision-making body.

    Earlier this week, a Russian representative told the assembly, "Our army is not carrying out strikes against civilian infrastructure, including health care infrastructure."

    Representatives from many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia said the health body should avoid politicization, and some claimed there are other crises impacting the health of populations that deserve the world's attention.

    Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, defying international calls not to do so.

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