Thank you, Mr President,
Thank you, Ms. Msuya and Mr. Abdi for your updated information.
We meet again on Ukraine; the war is going on with its destructive path, the overall situation is dire and worsening, people continue to suffer. Lives of countless civilians, particularly women and children are devastated because of Russia’s aggression that continues unabated.
If one would try to summarize the news we get every day from Ukraine – including what we heard from the briefers today – it would be:
continued shelling with mounting civilians victims, targeting cities with large scale destruction of civilian infrastructure;
persistent attacks of hospitals, healthcare facilities and schools;
horrible crimes including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, mass graves;
countless shocking personal stories of lives uprooted, ripped apart, which will never be the same again.
We also learn about the continued Ukrainian resistance against a continued war they did not want, they did not choose.
The war goes on and intensifies, so too does the magnitude of human suffering. 7,172 and counting civilian casualties; 14 million people have been forced to leave their homes in only three months. Two months ago, the UN projected some 4 million people would be displaced. In less than 10 weeks, that number is now at 5.8 million and the new projection is now at 8.3 million. This requires more financial support for refugees and host countries to face challenges with access to food, housing, transportation, services.
Massive destruction of civilian infrastructure has made life unbearable or completely disrupted for millions of people. Systematic destruction of health facilities, transport, supplies, and warehouses continue has severely affect basic services.
We are particularly concerned by reports of unlawful attacks on schools which deprives civilians of access to education.
It is unbearable to see schools that used to be school; now they are a pack of rubble.
Schools, just like hospitals, should be safe places, immune to harm, free from attacks. In Ukraine today they aren’t!
An average of 22 schools a day have regularly come under attack in Ukraine since the start of the war, disrupting the education of 5.5 million children remaining in the country. Their school year had ended on the 24th of February. At least one in six UNICEF – supported schools in Eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war.
Only few days ago, more than 60 people were feared dead after a Russian bomb flattened a school being used as a shelter in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk region. There is no justification for such recklessness.
Against this desolate picture, we are pleased to highlight that, on a positive note, UNESCO Global Education Coalition composed of 200 members from the private sector, civil society, academia and the UN family, is working actively to ensure the right to education and to continuity of learning in Ukraine. Some 48,000 digital devices will be provided to Ukrainian teachers, reaching out to hundreds of thousands of learners to ensure the continuity of online teaching. A Higher-Education e-Assessment platform for more than 200 000 students, that Unesco is establishing together with the Ukrainian Government, will ensure that students can pass their exams evaluations.
As the military aggression escalates, civilian causalities rise and war crimes and crimes against humanity mount. Reports and preliminary facts gathered on the ground raise serious confirm grave breaches of international humanitarian law in Ukraine.
A report recently published pursuant to the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism analyses a shocking range of apparent war crimes, from rape and torture to deportation and the use of human shields. It marks an important next step in a long road to a full understanding of the illegal and criminal acts committed and suffered in the ongoing aggression.
It concludes that, among other, two most blatant attacks mentioned several times during our discussions: the bombing of the Mariupol Maternity House and Children’s Hospital and the bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where several hundred civilians were killed, constitute most likely an egregious violation of IHL and those who ordered or executed it committed a war crime.
Everything should be done to secure the rights of children. We call on SG and the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict to add Ukraine as a ‘situation of concern’ in SG upcoming 2022 annual report on children and armed conflict in light of grave violations committed against children in eastern Ukraine between 2014 and 2021, as well as evidence of an alarming increase in grave violations across the country, amid the rapid and ongoing escalation of hostilities since late February 2022.
Thorough investigation must be carried out and accountability must and will be ensured.
The seismic effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine are felt everywhere;
the stores in places far from Russia and Ukraine are running out of cooking oil;
farmers are scrambling to buy fertilizer and governments are struggling to respond to public disquiet due to the sharp raise of prices.
Disruptions to the flow of these essential goods are compounding other supply chains, causing shortages and pushing millions of people into hunger. There must be no mistake for who the responsible is.
Ceasefire arrangements for the evacuation of some 600 civilians from the steel plant in Mariupol show that it is possible to find solutions, it is possible to silence the guns in the name of life when there is a will. This should be extended to the soldiers wounded that are still there. We support efforts of USG Griffiths and praise the UN actors for their contribution and encourage it to continue their efforts.
This senseless war must come to an end. The sooner this happens, the better for Ukraine and their people to start healing their profound wounds; the better for Russia and Russians to get out of a self-victimisation attitude; the better for everyone, everywhere.