Repeated attacks on hospitals in Ukraine: The tragic toll on lives and infrastructure

Repeated attacks on hospitals in Ukraine: The tragic toll on lives and infrastructure

On Monday 20 November, two missiles hit a hospital in Selydove, Donetsk region of Ukraine, where five Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff were present. Although no MSF staff were harmed, eight people inside the hospital were injured – including two Ministry of Health staff. Tragically, three people have been reported killed when part of the hospital collapsed from the missiles. MSF condemns this attack on a hospital, the second in a week, and once again calls for the protection of medical facilities.

“At around 11:30pm, we began hearing explosions. Initially, they seemed distant, but gradually they approached. Suddenly, a missile struck the room where myself and other MSF staff were present. Fortunately, the impact was on the corner of the room, which is likely what saved us,” said Artem Tretiakov, an ambulance driver with MSF.

After the attack, MSF’s team immediately began providing emergency first aid for those injured inside the hospital. An additional intensive care ambulance and emergency team were also dispatched to the hospital in Selydove to provide further support.  

“All the lights in the hospital premises went out. We proceeded to the corridor and enquired about anyone needing assistance. Using flashlights and mobile phones, we provided first aid, making makeshift bandages,” explained MSF doctor, Yevheniia Mitiaieva. “An 80-year-old patient was in critical condition. He had multiple wounds from window glass that shattered during the explosions. After our initial treatment, we transferred him in one of our ambulances to another hospital for further medical care.”

The hospital in Selydove sustained severe damage from the attack. Two MSF ambulances based there were also damaged, which are part of an ambulance system that has transported more than 10,600 patients – 62 per cent which were the result of violent trauma – since May 2022. “The blast wave shattered the ambulance windows,” explained Tretiakov. “Despite this, the vehicles remain operational and once the glass is replaced, we will resume our work.”

This is the second attack within a week on a hospital in Ukraine where MSF is present. On Monday 13 November, a hospital in Kherson region was targeted with artillery, which destroyed 150 windows and badly damaged the emergency department where MSF worked. Three people were injured, and a Ministry of Health staff member died from injuries sustained during the attack.

“We utterly condemn these abhorrent assaults on hospitals, which have resulted in the tragic deaths and injury of patients and medical personnel,” said Vincenzo Porpiglia, MSF head of mission in Ukraine. “These attacks continue to put the lives of healthcare staff at risk and jeopardise our ability to deliver critical medical treatment to patients in dire need. Medical facilities are supposed to be places where lives are saved, not taken.” 

MSF has been working in the emergency room and intensive care unit of the hospital in Selydove since July 2023 and in the emergency room in the hospital in Kherson since October this year. Due to the insecurity and extensive damage to the buildings, MSF is forced to temporarily suspend its presence inside these hospitals. However, we are committed to continuing to support with ambulance referrals and MSF teams continue to work in the emergency department and provide surgical care in other hospitals in Donetsk and Kherson regions, as well as conducting mobile clinics in areas close to the frontlines where there is limited access to healthcare services.


MSF has been working in the emergency departments of four Ministry of Health hospitals in Donetsk and Kherson regions of Ukraine. MSF first began supporting a hospital in Kostiantynivka in August 2022, running emergency department activities and providing surgical care. MSF then expanded into the hospital in Selydove in July 2023, and two hospitals in Kherson in September and October 2023.

Due to these recent attacks, MSF activities inside one hospital in Kherson and the hospital in Selydove have been suspended. However, MSF is still supporting these facilities with ambulance referrals and remains present in the other two hospitals.

Since working in the emergency departments of these hospitals, MSF had received a total of 3,078 emergency room admissions – 78 per cent as a result of violent trauma (data up until  31 October 2023). We have also been operating ambulances in Donetsk and Kherson regions since May 2022, have transported 10,613 patients (data up until the 20 November 2023).

In regions heavily affected by the fighting, such as in the Donetsk and Kherson, people’s access to healthcare has been severely disrupted due to lack of healthcare staff and destroyed healthcare facilities. MSF are ensuring continuity of basic healthcare for people who are still residing in these areas – predominately elderly – through mobile clinics. In 2023, MSF have provided more than 62,000 medical consultations to people through these mobile clinics (data up until 22 November 2023)

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Emma Dixon Head of Media, MSF UK
Emma Dixon Head of Media, MSF UK
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This is the press room for MSF UK - the UK office of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

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