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Ukraine health facilities stretches to breaking point, WHO warns

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Ukraine health facilities stretches to breaking point, WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is working “day and night” to keep medical supply chains open and preserve the health system in Ukraine, where, it says, medical facilities are stretched to breaking point.

The UN agency’s relief effort continues, despite missile attacks on healthcare facilities, workers, and patients in Ukrainian cities, which have killed 12 people and injured 34.

Nurses have had to ventilate patients manually in hospital basements, away from Russian shelling.

Among the most-needed lifesaving supplies, the UN health agency has sourced oxygen and insulin, surgical supplies, anesthetic, and transfusion kits to collect, test and safely transfuse blood.

“Supply chains have been severely disrupted,’’ WHO said in a statement on Monday.

Many distributors are not operational, some stockpiles are inaccessible due to military operations, medicine supplies are running low, and hospitals are struggling to provide care to the sick and wounded.”

Some 18 million people in Ukraine are believed to have been affected by the war, including 6.7 million internally displaced.

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A key priority of the WHO relief effort is to provide support to the healthcare systems of neighbouring countries, which have taken in some 2.8 million people in the last two weeks.

One of those countries is Moldova, which has seen over 310,000 people enter its territory since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, however, called for international humanitarian law to be respected in Ukraine, amid reports that a convoy of some 160 civilian cars has managed to leave the city of Mariupol, which has been surrounded by Russian forces for over two weeks.

According to local officials, the convoy was evacuated under the cover of a “humanitarian corridor”, which would make it the first such ceasefire to be successfully organised between the warring parties.

Conditions in Mariupol have severely deteriorated since the siege began.

Guterres said that the UN and humanitarian partners are working to ensure passage from besieged areas and provide aid, where security permits.

In spite of the positive reports that some civilians are managing to leave Mariupol,  Guterres emphasised that avenues in and out of encircled cities are more precarious by the day.

He called for international humanitarian law to be respected.

The secretary-general also announced that the United Nations will allocate 40 million dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in order to “ramp up vital assistance to reach the most vulnerable”.

He added that the funding would “help get critical supplies of food, water, medicines, and other lifesaving aid into the country, as well as provide cash assistance.”

This is the second allocation from the fund since the rapid increase in hostilities in Ukraine.

A 20 million dolllars injection of funds was announced on February 24, and a humanitarian system-wide scale-up to ease the suffering of the people of Ukraine has been launched.

A Flash Appeal for Ukraine was launched on March 1 in Geneva. It requires 1.1 billion dollars in immediate funding to support six million of the most vulnerable people in Ukraine.

As of Monday, donors have reported 219 million dollars in funding for the appeal.

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