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Government against treating Ukrainian war-wounded in Swiss hospitals

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hand with an injured Ukrainian serviceman at a hospital in Dnipro, Ukraine. Keystone / Presidential Press Service Hando

The Swiss federal government has objected to a NATO request to treat Ukrainians wounded in the war on the grounds of neutrality.

This content was published on July 18, 2022 - 10:15
Tages Anzeiger/ac

According to the Tages Anzeiger newspaper, certain Swiss cantons had expressed a willingness in May to treat the wounded but opposition from governmental quarters scuppered the initiative. The request was originally made by a NATO department called the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. This body coordinates medical evacuations from Ukraine internationally. 

This request triggered investigations by Switzerland’s  coordinated medical service, Federal Office of Public Health and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Three weeks later the federal authorities rejected the admission of wounded Ukrainians for legal and practical reasons.

The main objections were that it would violate Switzerland’s status as a neutral state under international law. For example, the Geneva Convention and Hague Agreement of 1907 require neutral states to ensure that the rehabilitated soldiers can no longer take part in military operations after their recovery.

With regard to wounded civilians, the government was of the opinion that it is almost impossible to distinguish civilians from soldiers given that many civilians in Ukraine are taking up arms to defend their country. Instead, Swiss officials prefer to help the wounded by channeling humanitarian aid to civilian hospitals in Ukraine.
 

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