Hospitals & Health Care Workers Under Threat by Russia’s Assault on Civilian Targets Add to Growing Humanitarian Crisis
Washington, DC — As Russia’s brutal, unprovoked military assault against Ukraine continues, the five-member Tri-Council for Nursing — American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Nurses Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing — joins the International Council of Nurses, the International Rescue Committee and other national and international nursing, medical and emergency response organizations worldwide in solidarity with the health care communities in Ukraine and across the eastern European region.
Not surprisingly, Ukraine’s health care workers are on the front lines of the deepening crisis. Reports of subterranean, makeshift wards in Kyiv and elsewhere reflect the increasingly chaotic circumstances of people desperate for emergency medical attention and treatment of chronic conditions. With military and civilian fatalities and injuries mounting amidst street fighting in Ukraine’s cities and the wanton destruction of civilian enclaves like apartment complexes, schools and hospitals, the need for critical care and emergency response teams is certain to increase in the coming days.
As during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care professionals are once again called upon to make personal sacrifices, at grave risk to themselves and their families. Our Ukrainian colleagues remain steadfast in this latest test of fortitude, fulfilling their sworn oath as healers. But now, Ukrainian nurses, physicians, and other health care workers, as well as the facilities and resources required to provide safe, effective care are stretched to the breaking point.
We want them to know they are not isolated and alone, that humanity counts on their vital service in this dark time. We pledge to do whatever is within our collective power — including urging monetary and other material donations to assist the Ukrainian nursing workforce in providing urgently needed health care. The International Council of Nurses is collecting funds through its Humanitarian Fund to support nurses in the Ukraine and humanitarian efforts in the country.
We condemn in the strongest terms the violation of the Geneva Convention and international law that enshrines the protection of medical and health care workers. Safeguarding health care staff and facilities everywhere to maintain unfettered access to health care and the delivery of humanitarian assistance must remain a priority, over and above political interests and armed conflict anywhere.
The invasion of Ukraine has already taken the lives of so many of its citizens and displaced millions of others. We join the global community in working toward a speedy resolution to this deadly conflict, one that will facilitate the return of Ukrainian refugees to their homeland and restore Ukraine’s hope in a peaceful, prosperous, independent future among the family of nations.
To help provide food, medical care, and emergency assistance on the ground in Poland, where the majority of Ukrainian refugees have fled to date, donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross or the International Rescue Committee.