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Crafting a Humanitarian Surge to Respond to the War on Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has placed an extraordinary burden on civilians and civilian infrastructure. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of March 20, 2022, 902 civilians have been killed and another 1,459 have been wounded. This casualty rate is likely much higher and will certainly increase as the conflict continues.

Threats to Health Care in Ukraine

Hospitals and health care facilities are sustaining damage as part of Russia‘s bombing. Several apparently deliberate attacks on hospitals have occurred. These attacks, which are war crimes if intentional and without distinction, are a significant humanitarian concern especially in urban settings. At least 43 verified attacks against health care facilities have been documented by the World Health Organization (WHO). For example, on March 9 an attack on a maternity hospital in embattled Mariupol initially killed 3 patients and injured 17. A few days later an injured baby and mother succumbed to their injuries. The Central City Hospital in Vuhledar was targeted on February 24 by a ballistic missile armed with cluster munitions. Four persons were killed and 10, including 6 health care workers, were injured. Cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate when used in dense urban settings. Their use – like the attacks on health care facilities – may be war crimes.

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John P. Sullivan

John P. Sullivan

Dr. John P. Sullivan served as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department; specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism and intelligence. He is an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy - University of Southern California, Senior El Centro Fellow at Small Wars Journal, and Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Global Observatory of Transnational Criminal Networks. His doctoral dissertation at the Open University of Catalonia examined the impact of transnational crime on sovereignty. His current research focus is terrorism, transnational gangs and organized crime, conflict disaster, intelligence studies, post-conflict policing, sovereignty and urban operations.