Delivered by Ambassador and Permanent Representative Lana Nusseibeh
I thank both the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Joyce Msuya, and the Executive Director of the World Food Program, Mr. David Beasley, for their valuable briefings.
Each meeting and briefing that we hold on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine underscores the war’s devastating impact on the lives of civilians and the failure of the international community to alleviate their suffering. We are deeply concerned by the increasing casualties, destruction, and damage to civilian infrastructure. In particular, we deplore the rate of displacement which has seen nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population, more than ten million IDPs and refugees – most of whom are women and children – flee their homes in just one month of fighting.
We reiterate the importance of an immediate cessation of all hostilities throughout Ukraine. We also welcome yesterday’s request from the UN Secretary-General that Martin Griffiths work with the parties involved to explore the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine, and we were pleased to hear today from OCHA that there was a positive response on both sides. We strongly support aid agencies as they uphold the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence, and as they coordinate with all parties to ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers.
In light of the dire situation, the UAE believes that it is important to focus on the following key points in order to help those in need most effectively.
First, we commend the role of humanitarian organizations and OCHA in rapidly responding, under extreme pressure, to the needs of civilians. Their efforts during the conflict have made it possible to provide aid to nearly one million people. We also commend the push to develop an integrated system of aid operations throughout the country.
We support OCHA’s efforts to create a humanitarian notification mechanism for the safe delivery of aid. We would also like to see work done building on the UN’s coordination with Ukraine and the Russian Federation which led to humanitarian convoys delivering aid to Sumy and, most recently, Kharkiv.
Second, the UAE reiterates the importance of all parties complying with international humanitarian law, especially to protect civilians, limit military operations to exclusively military objectives, and take all precautionary measures. We stress the need for keeping lines of communication open between all parties to coordinate the safe delivery of aid in a practical and effective manner, as well as following through on proposals for the dignified treatment of the dead, so they can be identified, have their families informed, and their bodies returned—on all sides. We further emphasize the importance of securing temporary ceasefire agreements in specific areas to allow civilians to evacuate to safety, to securely deliver aid to civilians in need, and to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers.
Third, we call for intensifying diplomatic contacts between the two parties to find a peaceful solution, and we fully support all mediation efforts in this regard. We took note of the positive reports from the talks conducted in Istanbul today as well as other ongoing mediation efforts. It is our sincere hope that they will lead to a diplomatic solution. In this context, we also stress the important role of women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations, including here to ensure their sustainability and durability.
We should all be alarmed by the WFP’s briefing today. As they note, Ukraine and Russia together are a critical breadbasket for the world. The rising food insecurity is wreaking havoc on pandemic recovery – particularly for developing, least developed, and small island developing states. In the Middle East and Africa, the conflict jeopardizes significant sources of wheat, including for many countries on this Council’s agenda. This could lead to further unrest and instability around the world.
In conclusion, the UAE reaffirms its commitments to the humanitarian response, which we have contributed to both bilaterally and through the UN’s Humanitarian Appeal. We also reiterate the importance of constructive Security Council engagement towards alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and, more broadly, to help encourage the urgent diplomatic resolution of this conflict.