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Bombing of Ukraine children’s hospital ‘tore every soul apart’

Okhmatdyt, the children's hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine, after Russia bombed it on Monday. (Images by Dmytro Kulik, used with permission.)

Monday morning left a painful spot on every Ukrainian heart. Russia launched a wave of missile attacks targeting multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk.

According to the city of Kyiv, the strikes on July 8 marked the 1,141st air raid siren since February 24, 2022, when Russia began its full-scale invasion in Kyiv.

Amid the explosions and shellings, panicked people ran to bomb shelters. But it was only one word that tore every soul apart – Okhmatdyt. 

Every Ukrainian knew that place. It was the children’s hospital, where doctors cured the severest diseases.

People use wheelbarrows to transport bottled water in the aftermath of a bombing at Okhmatdyt, the children’s hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Dmytro Kulik, used with permission.)

A pillar of children’s health for more than a century, Okhmatdyt is the biggest medical hub in Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

Despite the war, kids were fighting for their lives. At the time of the explosion, they were getting help, operations were underway, and they were spending time with loved ones.

Two medical workers were killed, and more than 50 people were wounded, according to the State Emergency Services of Ukraine.

Dmytro Kulik, a student of the Institute of International Relations at Kyiv National University of Taras Shevchenko, was in his dorm a short distance from the hospital at the time of the attack. He said he and other students rushed Okhmatdyt to help.

“What happened yesterday in Kyiv is unacceptable in the civilized world,” said Kulik, who said he helped bring water bottles to the hospital.

Later, he said, he “filmed the consequences of the Russian crime” and then took part in picking up garbage and debris at the site.

Only a few hours after the rocket hit, the building was already being demolished by the special services using their equipment, said Kulik, while civilians were collecting all the debris from other buildings. 

“When I saw an unconscious man being carried out on a stretcher, I realized once again that all we have to do if we don’t want to end up under a pile of stones is to live the war and remember every second that the war is not somewhere else, but here,” Kulik said.

The most heartbreaking part of all this is that the Russians aimed directly at the children’s hospital. It wasn’t an accident. They planned that. On social platforms, there is evidence that they shelled it intentionally, and without any mercy. 

It is hard to understand that thinking.

The day of the attack on the hospital, ambassadors from different countries around the world to the site to commemorate the loss.

Today, at the urging of France, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Ecuador and the United States called for and held an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the bombings.

Here is the surreal thing – Russia presides here. The country that shelled the children’s hospital currently heads the Security Council.

How come a state that violates international law obligations can have a leading spot in the structure that maintains peace and cooperation?

This question goes unanswered. 

In the face of the heinous July 8 attack, Ukraine showed resilience and unity. Civilians volunteered near the hospital, giving help in every realm.

During 22 hours, more than 250 million hryvnias, or more than $6 million U.S. dollars, were raised just on one fundraising platform. It will likely grow.

“Inaction kills, so get it into your head before you become the next victim of rashism,” Kulik said, using local slang that mashes up “Russia” and “fascism.”

We keep fighting for our freedom and dignity. Slava Ukraini.

Vladlen Zaitsev is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Kyiv, Ukraine. He reported this article from Poland, where he is attending summer school.

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