Ukraine: MSF team witnesses hospital bombing in Mykolaiv

White flag with red logo of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) against sunny blue sky

© Valérie Batselaere/MSF

On April 4, a four-person team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited Mykolaiv, Ukraine, to meet with city and regional health authorities. As the MSF team entered the city's oncology hospital, which has been treating the wounded since the beginning of the war, the area around the hospital came under fire at about 3:30 p.m. local time.

"Several explosions took place in close proximity to our staff over the course of about 10 minutes," said Michel-Olivier Lacharité, MSF head of mission in Ukraine, currently based in Odesa. "As they were leaving the area, the MSF team saw injured people and at least one dead body. However, we are not in a position to give exact numbers of dead and injured. Fortunately our staff were able to take cover and were not hurt in the explosions, although the windows of their vehicle, parked outside the hospital entrance, were blown out by the blasts."

The team reported that the regional pediatric hospital, about 300 meters away, was also hit. No large crater was visible. In the wake of the explosions, they saw numerous small holes in the ground, scattered over a large area. These effects could be consistent with the use of cluster bombs.

The oncology hospital is located in a residential area on the east side of Mykolaiv, where many medical facilities are concentrated.

At the time of the strikes by Russian forces, the MSF team was preparing to launch new activities in support of people displaced by the war, in partnership with a local organization. MSF is currently assessing how to expand its planned activities in Mykolaiv. 

"Bombing such a large area within a residential neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon cannot but cause civilian casualties and hit public buildings," said Lacharité. "In the past two days, three hospitals in Mykolaiv have been hit by strikes. In addition to yesterday's strikes, Hospital No. 5, located in the south of the city, was hit on April 3. Hospitals, patients and medical staff must absolutely be spared from attack.”