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Health and explosive violenceImpact on civilians

Russian bombings of hospitals and healthcare

On 9 March 2022, horrific images and testimonies emerged from Mariupol, Ukraine, of a maternity and children’s hospital destroyed by a Russian airstrike. It was the third recorded instance of Russian explosive weapon use on hospitals since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February 2022.

Patients and injured civilians being evacuated from a maternity hospital in Mariupol, bombed by Russian forces on 9 March 2022.

Since Action on Armed Violence began recording the global casualties of explosive violence in 2011, we have recorded 16 incidents in which Russia has bombed hospitals. These attacks have resulted in 186 civilian casualties, 105 of whom were killed and 81 injured. Among these casualties have been at least nine women and seven children, though the number is likely much higher. Ten of the 16 incidents of Russian explosive weapon attacks on hospitals have been targeted airstrikes, accounting for 56% (104) of civilian casualties. Five of the 16 recorded incidents of Russian explosive weapon attacks on hospitals have been shelling attacks, and these account for 44% (82) of civilian casualties.

Hospital attacks have been a consistent and devastating feature of Russia’s air campaign in Syria, and this inhumane tactic is now being seen in Ukraine. Since Russia’s military engagement in Syria began in 2015, AOAV has recorded nine incidents of explosive weapon use by Russian forces on hospitals across Syria, killing 37 civilians and injuring 47. On the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, explosive weapons were used on a hospital. Since then, there have been six more targeted explosive weapon attacks on hospitals in Ukraine by Russian forces. 68 civilians have now been killed by Russian bombings of hospitals in Ukraine, and at least 34 civilians injured.

According to AOAV data on State perpetrators of explosive weapon attacks on hospitals and healthcare facilities since 2011, Russia is second only to Syrian government forces in causing the highest numbers of civilian casualties from the bombing of hospitals.

Below is a complete list of AOAV’s recorded incidents of Russian explosive weapon use on hospitals and healthcare:

Russian bombings of hospitals
DateLocation (City/Region/Country)DescriptionPerpetratorWeaponCasualties
20/10/2015  Sarmin, Idlib, SyriaDouble tap airstrike (Russia) hits SAMS hospital for eleventh time since the war began, killing several including staff and severely damaging hospital  RussiaAir strike12 civilians killed, 1 armed-actor killed
25/12/2015Azaz, Aleppo, SyriaSix civilians killed by Russian air strike on hospital buildingsRussiaAir strike6 civilians killed
02/04/2017Maarrat al Nu’man, Idlib, Syria10 injured in Russian airstrike on hospital in Idlib, also putting hospital out of serviceRussiaAir strike10 civilians injured
29/01/2018Saraqib, Idlib, SyriaRussian airstrike hit a hospital in Saraqib, killing 5 and injuring 6.RussiaAir strike5 civilians killed, 6 injured
05/05/2019Kafranbel, Idlib, Syria1 killed in airstrikes on Orient Hospital in Kafr Nubl outskirtsRussiaAir strike1 civilian killed
14/08/2019Bseqa, Idlib, SyriaAmbulance driver and nurse killed in Russian airstrikes on area between Maarat Hurmah and Sheikh MustafaRussiaAir strike2 civilians killed
05/11/2019Jabal al-Zawiyah, Idlib, SyriaRussian airstrikes hit al-Ikhlas Hospital in Shnan village in Jabal al-Zawiyah, which injured 5 of the medical staffRussiaAir strike5 civilians injured
29/01/2020Ariha, Idlib, SyriaMany killed or in critical condition due to airstrikes by Russian planes on Ariha city which destroyed hospitalRussiaAir strike10 civilians killed, 24 injured (eight women)
02/03/2020Binnish, Idlib, Syria1 killed and hospital damaged in Russian airstrikes on Binnesh cityRussiaAir strike1 civilian killed, 1 injured
24/02/2022Vuhledar, Donetsk, Ukraine4 killed and 10 injured when Russian shell hit hospital in Vuhledar – 6 doctors among the injuredRussiaShelling (ground-launched)4 civilians killed and 10 injured
26/02/2022Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine1 child killed and 2 children and 2 adults injured by Russian shelling on hospitalRussiaShelling (ground-launched)1 civilian killed (child), and 4 injured (2 children)
09/03/2022Mariupol, Donetsk, Ukraine3 killed (1 child) and 17 injured in Russian airstrike on maternity and children’s hospitalRussiaAir strike3 civilians killed (1 child), and 17 injured
11/03/2022Kreminna, Luhansk, Ukraine56 civilians (mostly elderly and disabled) killed in tank fire on a nursing home in Kreminna, LuhanskRussiaTank shell56 civilians killed
04/04/2022Velyka Dymerka, Mykolayiv, UkraineMan and child killed in shelling of Mykolaiv hospitalRussiaShelling1 child and 1 man killed
27/04/2022Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk, UkraineOne woman killed in shelling of hospitalRussiaShelling1 woman killed