No mercy for civilians

Troubling accounts from the MSF medical train in Ukraine.

Doctors on Rails - MSF Medicalised train in Ukraine

Ukraine 2022 © Andrii Ovod/MSF

When the war started, I could hear the echoes of shelling but it was still far away. [...] Three weeks ago, I was on my way to the toilet when an explosion happened. I lost consciousness and fell. Once I came around, my face was covered with dry blood. I had an open arm fracture and must have also broken my nose when I fell. I was alone and in pain screaming for help but no one heard me. Later, a volunteer found me and spent two days trying to call an ambulance that would get me into a hospital.

92-year-old woman from Lyman, Donetsk region


This briefing note will show through the accounts of patients and medics on Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) medical referral train that the war in Ukraine is being conducted with an outrageous and shocking lack of care to distinguish and protect civilians. We will show that: 

—civilians have been shot at while evacuating or attacked while trying to leave war zones; 
—indiscriminate bombing and shelling has killed and maimed people living and sheltering in residential areas; 
—elderly people have been brutalized, attacked, and their particularly vulnerable status has been completely overlooked by attacking forces; and 
—the types of wounds are often extensive and horrific and appear to affect all—indiscriminately affecting people whether male or female, young or old. 

The above demonstrates that the rules of war—international humanitarian law—are being broken repeatedly and consistently. 

We therefore call urgently for a change; for the due process of the rules of war to be followed, for civilians to be afforded the protections that they can expect under international law, and for the obligations of distinction and proportion to be observed by attacking forces. 

No mercy for civilians

Troubling accounts from the MSF medical train in Ukraine.

Read the full report