Russia-Ukraine war: WHO to shut specalised Moscow office

A woman grieves at Ukraine soldiers' graves.

A woman grieves at Ukraine soldiers’ graves.

The World Health Organisation’s European office decided to close a specialised WHO office in Moscow and move its functions to Denmark, the health body said Monday.

The move, which was decided during a virtual session held on Monday, follows calls from members last year to shut the office over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Monday’s session was also convened after a group of 30 member states requested a special session in a letter in April, which noted that the “immediate and long-term health impacts in Ukraine and beyond” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “continue to be a matter of utmost concern”.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries, including several in central Asia.

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A majority of member states agreed to the decision, which means the closure of the health body’s “Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases,” in Moscow, with its functions to be relocated to the regional office in Denmark “no later than” 1 January 2024.

Calls for the closure of the office first arose in April of 2022, in the wake of the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The matter does however not concern the WHO’s country office for Russia.

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