Delivered by: Ghasaq Shaheen, Political Coordinator
I begin by thanking the Director of OCHA’s Coordination Division, Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham, for his valuable briefing today.
Our meeting today comes after 18 months of unrelenting war in Ukraine. This war has had tremendous consequences for the civilian population. 11 million people have been displaced and more than 9,500 people have been killed, 545 of them children.
There has been no reprieve from this war. Indeed, hostilities have expanded in recent months. Following the expiration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July, conflict has intensified in the Black Sea. Ukraine’s ports were also damaged by repeated strikes.
This reduces Ukraine’s ability to export grain and other food items, keeping prices stubbornly high around the world, and impacting the lives of the world’s poorest people. The expansion of conflict in the Black Sea poses risks to commerce and the livelihoods of people living around the Black Sea.
Fighting has also been heavy and affected civilian communities near the frontlines. In recent weeks, villages in eastern Ukraine have been evacuated. Hundreds of children have had to leave their homes. This is in addition to the two thirds of children in Ukraine that have already been displaced by the conflict. The war’s longevity is only increasing the suffering borne by civilians.
We also note with concern that winter will soon begin and highlight the need for civilians to have access to electricity and heating. Just last month, attacks hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure impacted the supply of power in nearly one third of Ukraine’s oblasts. We underline that civilians and civilian objects must never be the target of attack and we stress the need for parties to armed conflict to refrain from attacking, destroying, and rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of civilian populations.
The law is also clear about the imperative to protect civilians and humanitarian and medical workers. We express our condolences to families and loved ones of the six humanitarian workers who were killed in Ukraine in the last month and reiterate that humanitarian workers must be protected.
Allowing this war to go on without a just and lasting resolution will only prolong the humanitarian suffering of the Ukrainian people. We have reiterated, many times over, that there is no military solution to this conflict, that only direct negotiations will produce a sustainable peace between Russia and Ukraine. This remains our position, and we reaffirm our willingness to support any credible efforts towards that end.
In our region, we are deeply familiar with the cost of allowing these conflicts to fester. As we speak, another bloody chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being written, with horrific and disproportionate impact on civilians. It is not nearly enough to have meetings and talk about terrible situations across the world. The Security Council has a duty and a responsibility to bring these conflicts to an end, and not just manage them.