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Berlin promises help for Ukraine's wounded

June 10, 2022

Visiting Ukraine, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has promised more medical help for wounded war victims through new facilities and by sending doctors. Meanwhile, Berlin still faces questions over weapons.

Karl Lauterbach visiting a hospital in Ukraine
Lauterbach, himself a trained doctor, visited the western city of Lviv and spoke to medics thereImage: Thomas Koehler/BMG/photothek/dpa/picture alliance

The German health minister on Friday said Germany would do more to help Ukraine treat the victims of the war, with hundreds injured each day and many of the country's health facilities damaged by Russian attacks.

During a visit to Ukraine, Karl Lauterbach said that Germany would help build centers for the wounded, donate prosthetic limbs and send German doctors to the country.

The visit came at a time Germany's support for Ukraine — specifically over a delay in heavy weapons deliveries — faced fresh scrutiny.

What did the minister say?

Visiting the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Friday, Lauterbach said extra medical support was as critical as ever for Ukraine.

"Ukraine needs humanitarian aid just as urgently as our military support," Lauterbach said in a statement from his ministry.

"So much misery has been caused here by this barbaric war of aggression," Lauterbach said. "Children are stepping on mines, losing limbs. Blocks of flats are being shelled, innocent civilians and children are also being seriously injured," Lauterbach said.

Lauterbach, who was received by his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Liashko, was to participate in a donor conference for the construction of a rehabilitation center for people disabled during the war. The program also included a visit to several hospitals.

The minister said he was traveling with surgeons and specialists who were helping to care for seriously injured burn victims.

The German government says it will support the installation and operation of container workshops for the production of prostheses. Meanwhile, some 200 surgeons and emergency doctors have offered to work in Ukraine through the German Medical Association.

The visit came on the same day as a trip by German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir to the capital, Kyiv.

Questions over weapons timeline

Lauterbach's visit came as Germany faces fresh criticism over a lack of clarity over when heavy weapons will be delivered to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Although Germany has been among the largest suppliers of weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded at the end of February,  the delivery of heavy weaponry has been delayed. Kyiv says the weapons are needed turn the tide of the battle.

Criticism of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat party colleague of Lauterbach, has been particularly strong, with the chancellor accused of being overly hesitant in his response.

The mental wounds of Ukraine's refugees

Ukraine's ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk told the online edition of Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper that it remained unclear when MARS multiple rocket launchers would be handed over from the Bundeswehr.

"We expect the coalition government to fulfill this promise quickly because our troops most urgently need this weapon system to protect Ukrainian civilians from barbaric attacks by Russia," said Melnyk

In addition, he said, one IRIS-T air defense system unit promised by Germany was not enough. Ukraine needed at least 10 more such systems in the medium term, Melnyk said, along with ammunition, to strengthen its defense capability.

rc/rs (dpa, Reuters)