Delivered by: His Excellency Mohamed Abushahab, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative

I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Griffiths for his valuable briefing today.

The destruction of parts of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant and dam has led to large-scale flooding from the reservoir with wide-ranging and serious consequences.

The Nova Kakhovka reservoir was so large, locals referred to it as the ‘Kakhovka Sea’ and it provided water for drinking, industrial activities, and agriculture. The reservoir is also the source of the water required to cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The destruction of the dam has created an ecological, humanitarian, and nuclear safety risk.

International humanitarian law could not be more clear about the need to protect dams in times of conflict. Like nuclear power plants, dams are afforded special protection against attack, even if there is a military objective, due to the dangerous forces contained therein and the risks to civilian populations.

We further recall the fundamental principles of necessity, proportionality, and distinction and note that the destruction of part of the dam has led to significant damage to other civilian infrastructure due to flooding. This Council also reaffirmed, in Resolution 2417, the need to spare from harm the means of food production, such as farms, many of which have been destroyed by the flooding. All parties must comply with their obligations under international law.

The destruction of the dam also increases the risk of an unimaginable nuclear accident. The Nova Kakhovka reservoir played a crucial role in cooling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. According to the IAEA, the plant is now relying on the backup cooling pool for this critical function.

Since the start of this war, the world has narrowly avoided nuclear disaster more than once. This act has only further increased the risks. As an immediate step, we encourage all parties to work with the IAEA to ensure that the cooling mechanism is functioning and that there are appropriate backup systems in place. We also urge all parties to cooperate with the IAEA to de-escalate the situation in the area of the plant and ensure its long-term, safe functioning.

The humanitarian consequences of the destruction of the dam are significant. Already 16,000 people, including thousands of children, are reported to have been forced to evacuate their homes and evacuations continue, including in parts of Kherson city. These evacuations are particularly challenging for the elderly. We’ve heard from Under-Secretary-General Griffiths that 40 villages are already submerged or partially submerged, with more at risk. The town of Nova Kakhovka is already submerged.

There are reports of water contamination and civilian water systems being damaged. The UN is providing emergency drinking water and purification tablets to affected people.

Conflict and challenges to the export of Ukrainian grain have impacted global food security. Floods have damaged farmland and there are reports that farm animals that could not be evacuated have drowned. The damage to a productive farming region puts further strain on an already challenged global food system.

We call upon all parties to ensure the safety of those that have been displaced and enable humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to those impacted by the flood.

The UAE reiterates that the cessation of hostilities throughout Ukraine is the only certain way to prevent further harm to the civilian population and prevent a nuclear disaster. We call for de-escalation and dialogue to drive this conflict towards a peaceful, sustainable solution in line with the UN Charter, and we stand willing to support any serious efforts to this end.