World Health Organization members pass resolution against Russia

GENVE, May 10 (Reuters) – Members of the World Health Organization’s European region on Tuesday passed a resolution that could lead to the closure of Russia’s regional office and the suspension of meetings in the country in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The Special Session of the European Region adopted the resolution, supported by Ukraine and the European Union, with 43 in favor, 3 against (Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan) and 2 abstentions.

Backers consider it an important political step to isolate Moscow and said they were doing everything they could to avoid a major impact on Russia’s health system. The resolution referred to a “health emergency” in Ukraine, referring to mass casualties and risks of chronic and communicable diseases resulting from Russia’s military actions.

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Russian envoy Andrey Plutnitsky opposed the resolution, saying he was “extremely disappointed”.

“We believe this is a huge moment of damage to the global health care system,” he told the WHO membership assembly and top officials.

Some have criticized the WHO’s resolution, saying it does not go far enough. Diplomats told Reuters they had dropped efforts to remove Russia from the WHO board of directors over legal technical difficulties, although members could try to freeze Russia’s voting rights at a large meeting later this month.

Moscow has called its actions since Feb. 24 a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fueled by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia has started an unprovoked war of aggression.

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Reporting by Emma Farge Editing by Paul Carrel, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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