All of us here acknowledge the necessity of addressing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. In less than a month, more than 3.5 million people fled to neighbouring countries, such as Moldova, Romania, and Poland, and whose generosity we must recognize and appreciate. Furthermore, amid the continued fighting within Ukraine’s borders, 6.5 million people are displaced, often without access to basic necessities.
We also recognize the donor community’s robust response to the UN’s humanitarian appeal, and we were encouraged by the dialogue between the UN, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation, which led to the first humanitarian convoy reaching Sumy in the country’s east on 18 March. It is precisely this kind of coordination that we hope to encourage and see formalized soon to help those most in need safely and in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Nevertheless, we believe there is a crucial role for the Security Council, in line with its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, to tangibly respond to the crisis. Therefore, we carefully studied all products brought to this Council by its members, including the draft resolution tabled by the Russian delegation, which includes substantive responses to the humanitarian needs in the country. We endorse its calls to allow safe passage without discrimination, unhindered access to humanitarian aid, and the demand that international humanitarian law is protected.
Ultimately, however, we abstained from the vote because we would have liked to see, one month into this conflict, a call for a nationwide cessation of hostilities and a text that garnered the full support of Council members. The continued fighting precludes the robust aid operations we all hope to see in Ukraine. Not least because it risks the safety of humanitarian workers.
We also would have preferred greater clarity on the full application of international humanitarian law and with regard to elements that may be misconstrued to imply a political position that falls outside the scope of a humanitarian resolution.
But meanwhile, building on the dialogue that led to the Sumy convoy, we must encourage agreement on other technical steps to alleviate humanitarian suffering – for example, on civilian evacuation, access to aid, and windows of silence. Such measures will provide much-needed respite after four weeks of fighting and may also lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive humanitarian response as part of a negotiated settlement.
We believe this Council needs to rise to the occasion by adopting a dedicated compromise product that contains elements we can agree on, including a call on the parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including in relation to the wounded and the sick, missing persons, and the protection of combatants and non-combatants. While agreement was not possible today, the Council cannot abrogate its responsibility to maintain international peace and security. We must work in good faith and try our utmost to help all those in need on the ground today. The UAE stands ready to aid those efforts with the full urgency that this work deserves.