Press releases

Norway extends agreement on medical evacuation from Ukraine

‘Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine is continuing unabated. Many Ukrainians are in need of life-saving medical treatment. I am pleased that Norway is now extending the agreement with Scandinavian Airlines and the EU to transport Ukrainian patients to Norway and other European countries for medical care,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Picture of an aircraft with medical personnel.
Credit: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Norwegian Armed Forces.

Since August 2022, Norway has been providing regular weekly flights to evacuate Ukrainian patients to countries across Europe. The European Commission has described the transport as a cornerstone of the evacuation effort. In response to the request of the EU, the Norwegian Government has decided to extend the medical evacuation operation until February 2024. The agreement may be further extended if necessary.

‘These evacuations are saving lives and are an important component of Norway’s support to Ukraine. Roughly one in ten hospitals has been damaged in Russian attacks. Hospitals, maternity clinics and medical warehouses are being bombed. At the same time, over 14 million Ukrainians need medical help. It is crucial that Norway’s assistance in evacuating Ukrainian patients can continue,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Since the operation started in August 2022, Norway has helped to transport over 1500 people (patients and family members). The operation is being coordinated under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) and the EU has asked Norway to extend the transport agreement.

‘Many countries have available hospital capacity but do not have the means to transport patients. Norway’s airlift operation means better use of this capacity across Europe, which in turn reduces the burden on health care services in Ukraine. I am proud that we can offer this assistance. Norway is one of the countries that has transported the greatest number of patients to hospitals in Europe. Norway is also one of the countries that has received the most patients,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.

The medical evacuation operation from Ukraine is a coordinated effort involving several Norwegian ministries, the regional health authorities and the Norwegian Directorate of Health, as well as the Norwegian Armed Forces, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection.

A long-term agreement between the Norwegian Armed Forces and SAS has made it possible to convert an ordinary airliner into a state-of-the-art air ambulance. SAS operates and pilots the aircraft, and the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Services provide the medical and operational expertise. The business sector, civil society and military authorities are all working together in this important effort. 

‘Ukraine has an impressive health care system, but is in an extremely difficult situation. This transport agreement and evacuation operation helps to ensure that Ukrainian patients receive the treatment they need. The health care personnel on board normally work in the Norwegian health services, but have an agreement to be deployed at short notice for the Armed Forces,’ said Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram.

Patients of all ages from Ukraine are first transported out of Ukraine to the medical hub in Poland before being transferred to hospitals in Europe for treatment. The majority of these are patients suffering from cancer or injuries, but there are also patients with infections and other medical conditions.

­‘The transport is available to wounded soldiers and injured Ukrainian civilians alike, providing them with access to high-quality medical care and treatment from Norway and other European countries. There is a great need to alleviate the burden on the health system in Ukraine. The patient transport operation clearly shows that Norwegian society as a whole supports the effort to assist Ukraine, and bears witness to the close cooperation between European countries,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.



  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 14.6 million Ukrainians are in need of medical help. At least one in three lack access to health services.
  • So far, over 1 000 attacks on the health sector in Ukraine have been registered.
  • Roughly one in ten hospitals in Ukraine has been directly damaged in Russian attacks, and the eastern part of the country has been hit the hardest.
  • Norway is one of the countries that has received the most patients from Ukraine. So far, some 259 patients have been treated in Norwegian hospitals.