Delivered by: His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
I’d like to thank Under-Secretary-General Griffiths for his sobering briefing on the situation in Ukraine.
Over the course of the past few weeks, the humanitarian community has focused its attention on addressing the impact of winter in Ukraine. As the cold weather sets in, we are seeing humanitarian actors rise to the occasion in support of those most in need. As we heard again today, the situation remains critical, especially in areas that have experienced, or continue to experience, heavy fighting and shelling. In places like Mykolaiv and Kherson, the lack of electricity, running water, and heating, in addition to the scarcity of food and medicine, is putting considerable pressure on humanitarian response efforts.
We not only commend the work of the UN and other major aid organizations, but also of local first responders and community organizations who are deploying innovative measures to address ever-growing needs – whether through allocating generators, setting up mobile heating and charging stations, or urgently repairing electricity grids and damaged water systems.
Winter also brings new and unforeseen dangers. Landmines and unexploded munitions are now concealed by snow and ice. We are deeply concerned by reports that the lack of heating has driven people – including children – to gather firewood in forests littered with hidden explosives.
The last time the Council met to discuss the situation of children in Ukraine was around the start of the school year in September. Beyond the importance of education itself and avoiding a lost generation of students that are denied opportunity, schooling provides an important source of stability and peer-bonding that children desperately need as they cope with the intense trauma of the war. Since September, it is estimated that approximately 2.6 million children in Ukraine are learning online due to the impacts of war on education. Yet even this remote access has been disrupted by blackouts and emergency power cuts due to the conflict’s impact on energy infrastructure. We reiterate our call for the parties to take all the necessary measures to prevent the targeting of civilian infrastructure and to ensure that all children can safely access education.
Children should be protected from the worst impacts of armed conflict. But the war’s impact on the children of Ukraine goes beyond even immediate threats to physical safety. The psycho-social impacts of the conflict could engender long-term challenges that affect an entire generation of children. When families are separated and forced to move or take shelter underground, their daily activities are severely disrupted, and the mental health of children suffers. We applaud those working on the ground, particularly community organizations that have mobilized to provide psychosocial support to children impacted by the war.
We can and must do more to protect the children of Ukraine. At the same time, it is critical to ensure that children elsewhere in the world do not suffer from the impact of the global food crisis that has been exacerbated by this war. We were heartened to see the FAO’s latest global food price index, which showed a modest decrease in global food prices due in part to the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Yet, we are still seeing record high levels of food prices – which impact the poorest countries first. Areas in which fertilizer is not available face low harvests that could undermine even the limited progress made in lowering food prices. In this regard, we welcome the donation of 260,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizer and the news of the first shipment that is destined for Malawi. We look forward to further shipments in the coming months as well as other efforts to enhance fertilizer supply. At the same time, we continue to underline the need to ensure that the delivery of grain facilitated by the July Istanbul agreements reaches those most in need. In this respect, we are encouraged by the recent arrival of Ukrainian wheat bound for Ethiopia. We must all engage in collective efforts to ensure children do not go hungry – whether in Ukraine or in other parts of the world.
Once again, we reiterate the need for de-escalation and a diplomatic solution to this crisis. For its part, the Council needs to encourage dialogue and foster an environment that is conducive to a cessation of hostilities in order to ultimately bring an end to the fighting. The UAE continues to stand ready to deploy its good offices and contribute to efforts aimed at achieving these goals.
Thank you, Madam President.