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Birth amid death: pregnant mothers and newborns face hell in ...

World

Birth amid death: pregnant mothers and newborns face hell in Ukraine

Bombing of maternity ward underscores urgency of getting help to pregnant women and babies

Therese Raphael

Amid the sounds of air raid sirens, Mariia Shostak lay in intensive care. Wearing a disposable shirt and no shoes, she was wheeled down to a cellar shelter and saw her newborn son, Arthur, for the first time. Shostak’s was the first recorded war birth, a caesarean section on February 25, according to an account posted by the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA). She was one of the lucky ones.

The bombing on Wednesday of a maternity and children’s ward at a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, is an atrocious reminder of the danger facing some of the country’s most vulnerable. The bombing came during a supposed pause in fighting to allow for the evacuation of people from the besieged city. Early reports of 17 injured probably understate the human toll of the bombing. “What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, that fears hospitals, fears maternity hospitals and destroys them? What was it — denazification of the hospital?” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

The bombing of a maternity ward, an evident war crime, has strengthened calls for a limited no-fly zone to support a humanitarian corridor and underscores the urgency of getting help to pregnant women and babies in a country where life is under attack...

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