Frontline medical staff in Ukraine are being targeted by enemy fire more than in any other war and are being treated as ‘high-value targets’ by Russian forces, according to a humanitarian charity.
Medics4Ukraine, which trains combat medical staff, claim they are being specifically targeted, forcing them to remove red crosses from their uniforms to avoid being identified and deliberately attacked by Putin’s troops.
The World Health Organisation has recorded 703 attacks on hospitals and medical facilities since February.
It is believed to be more than the number of Russian attacks identified in Syria over 10 years.
Medics carry the lifeless body of a victim found under rubble at the scene of night shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine
Professor Mark Hannaford, founder of the charity, said: ‘Medics are specifically targeted by the occupying forces and considered as high-value targets.
‘This is happening in Ukraine more than any conflict I can recall. This puts them in the firing line while trying to save the lives of those injured in war. It is probably one of the most dangerous posts on the front line.’
He added that UK volunteers with combat medical experience take convoys of urgently needed medical supplies to the front.
Knowingly firing on medics wearing identifiable insignia is considered a war crime under the Geneva convention.
It comes amid sustained attacks on civilian infrastructure across Ukraine, leaving millions without power as heavy snowfall blankets Kyiv and the east of the country and freezing temperatures bite.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said 6million people were without power on Friday following Russian missile bombardments this week.
The World Health Organisation has recorded 703 attacks on hospitals and medical facilities since February. Pictured: medics give aid to a Ukrainian soldier wounded in a battle with the Russian troops in a city hospital in Mykolaiv
One Ukrainian official drew comparisons between Russia’s attempts to cut civilians off to the ‘genocidal’ tactics used by Josef Stalin, as Kyiv commemorated a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.
Moscow claims its strikes on energy infrastructure are a consequence of Kyiv being unwilling to negotiate, with the Kremlin also insisting that it does not target the civilian population.
Last week, a newborn baby was killed at a hospital in Vilnyansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, when a Russian airstrike hit the building.
The baby’s mother and doctor survived after being rescued from the rubble, officials say.
The Foreign Office said last week that Russia is deliberately bombing hospitals and other medical facilities.
A former firefighter in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Luksz Fajt, who now lives in Poland, volunteers for Medics4Ukraine and has played a major role in helping to establish training for Ukrainian forces.
‘Life-saving skills I learned in Aberdeenshire with the fire service and latterly as an offshore industry safety trainer, have inspired me to support Medics4Ukraine train hundreds of combat medics,’ he said.
Red Cross workers move medical supplies by boat across a reservoir next to a bridge that was destroyed by shelling in the settlement of Staryi Saltiv, Kharkiv region, earlier this month
‘Ukrainian combat medics are now taking crosses off their uniforms for fear of being identified. It increases their chances of survival.
‘I am only too happy to play my role in helping make training possible for combat medics in Ukraine.
‘I spent eight years between 2007 and 2015 as a crew manager in Inverurie before moving on to work in health and safety training in the offshore industry.’
Medics4Ukraine say the former firefighter was instrumental in setting up the training of hundreds of Ukrainian combat medics.
Trainer and UK paramedic Luca Alfatti said: ‘He made the contacts and routes possible for us to train combat medics in Lviv.
‘The need to save people and military is great. At one training session we were told 20 would be there and 100 turned up.
‘Those we train go on to instruct others in life-saving skills, too.’
The organisation has provided more than £1.1 million of medical training and life-saving equipment to Ukraine.