Delivered by: His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
I thank Assistant Secretary-General Khiari for his briefing.
The destruction and damage to Odesa is a further reminder of the material and intangible costs of the war on civilians, civilian objects, and cultural heritage.
Since February 2022, there have been nearly 25,000 civilian casualties recorded in Ukraine, including more than 9,000 killed and close to 16,000 injured. Despite the exhortations of the international community, the destruction of critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine continues with estimates of damage in the billions of US dollars. And as mentioned earlier, UNESCO has verified damage to 270 cultural sites in Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
The toll wrought by war is heavy, and the road to reconstruction and healing will be long and arduous. As long as this war continues, the level of destruction will only increase. The human price is already too high, but it will be even higher tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.
This reality in the ongoing war is causing untold suffering to civilians and leaving behind wounds that will not easily heal. As we noted earlier today, cultural heritage, particularly in places of cultural exchange, represents a prism through which we can view our common humanity. Its damage and destruction are a loss to all of us.
We once again reiterate our call on the parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Civilian objects must never be a target of attack.
We reiterate today that we must exert all efforts to bring this war to a just, lasting peace that is in line with the UN Charter and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
Thank you, Madam President.