As we are painfully aware, the war in Ukraine continues to rage. Since I briefed this Council on 24 August, because of the fighting, at least 104 civilians, including 10 children have died and at least 253 civilians, including 25 children have been injured according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
This brings the total number to 13,917 civilian casualties: 5,718 killed, including 372 children, and 8,199 injured, including 635 children. These are only verified figures and the actual numbers are likely significantly higher.
The war also continued to drive large-scale displacement.
Over 6.9 million people are internally displaced, a jump of 330,000 since my last briefing. Most of the newly displaced are coming from eastern and southern Ukraine.
The current number of Ukrainian refugees recorded across Europe has surpassed 7 million, up from 6.7 million just two weeks ago.
Ukrainian women, who constitute half of these refugees, continue to face significantly increased security risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.
Thousands of people in the conflict-affected areas of the Donetsk region, and most acutely in the city of Mariupol, lack access to reliable running water, increasing the risk of communicable disease.
All these numbers and facts, though shocking, cannot convey the full scale of the tragedy.
But in the face of the international community’s incapacity to stop this senseless war, we must continue to record its horrific consequences as faithfully and accurately as possible.
It is our responsibility, and indeed the very least we can do - to help prevent the war from escalating further and to deter other potential violent conflicts.
The UN continues to mobilize to address the massive impact of the war on civilians.
UNDP has launched an assessment of the consequences of the war on living conditions, health, access to education, livelihoods, food security, social status, as well as on overall levels of poverty and human development. Results are expected to be available in December 2022.
As humanitarian needs rapidly rise, the UN’s response has scaled-up and now reaches 12.7 million people with various forms of assistance.
Over 560 humanitarian organizations – more than 60 percent of them national NGOs – are now operating countrywide. This fully complements the incredible work that thousands of Ukrainian volunteers are carrying out in their country.
The UN is actively seeking to ensure that protection and assistance are available in all areas of Ukraine. We remain extremely concerned about the lack of access to Ukrainians living in areas that are currently not under the control of the Government of Ukraine.
Our humanitarian response includes only one million people in these areas, despite the confirmed enormous humanitarian needs.
The Secretary-General has spoken at length about the impact of the war around the world, especially on shortages of food and fertilizer.
As we have stressed before, the effects on countries already severely hit by climate change, drought or instability have been extremely worrying.
Somalia, for example, a country that before February sourced at least 90 per cent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, is on the brink of famine.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns that there are “concrete indications” that famine will occur later this year in the southern Bay region of the country.
Thousands are dying in a historic drought made worse by the effects of the war in Ukraine.
We are grateful that the Black Sea Initiative continues to enable food exports from Ukraine. Since 1 August, 100 ships have left Ukrainian ports carrying over 2,300,000 metric tons of grain across three continents, including 30 percent to low and lower-middle income countries.
The World Food Programme has thus far chartered three vessels to transport wheat from Ukraine in support of its humanitarian operations.
Thanks in part to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, world food commodity prices are coming down, the FAO reports, though they remain elevated.
But to ensure that food reaches all in need, Russian fertilizers and food products must reach foreign markets. The UN continues its efforts to facilitate access to these products, which are not under international sanctions, to world markets.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains a concern. The Council heard briefings yesterday from the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the dangers of continued military activity at the plant.
As the Secretary-General said yesterday, we welcome the IAEA mission as a first step to de-escalate the situation at Zaporizhzhia.
The IAEA mission report contains recommendations to further de-escalate the situation at the plant, including a proposal to create a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) in Zaporizhzhia to ensure the safety of the operating staff and maintain the physical integrity of the plant.
As an immediate step, I reiterate the Secretary-General’s urgent call for a complete cessation of military activity in and around the plant. Demilitarization is the only answer to ensure the safety of this facility.
The Fact-Finding mission to Olenivka is set to deploy in the coming days to look into the incident on 29 July that led to the death of 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Between 75 and 130 more were injured.
The head of the mission, Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, is accompanied by an experienced team of senior officials and experts.
The mission must be able to conduct its work without any interference and have safe, secure and unfettered access to people, places and evidence.
I want to thank Ukraine and Russia for their constructive approach in enabling preparations for the mission. We count on their continued support.
At my last briefing, I stressed that we were concerned by treatment of prisoners of war by both sides.
I want to reiterate that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine must have unimpeded access to all individuals detained in relation to the ongoing war.
This includes access to places of internment of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian detainees in the Russian Federation.
Both sides to the conflict must fully abide by their obligations under international law.
I welcome the parties’ continued engagement to agree on prisoner exchanges. Just last Friday, 14 prisoners were exchanged in the Donetsk region.
The persistent allegations of forced displacement, deportation and so-called “filtration camps” run by the Russian Federation and affiliated local forces are extremely disturbing.
Such reports must be investigated with the cooperation of the competent authorities. Assistant Secretary-General Brands Kehris will provide more information on this issue.
We have repeatedly discussed in this Chamber how the war in Ukraine is devastating that country but also endangering regional and global stability.
As you heard from the Secretary-General yesterday, just last week the 10th Review Conference of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons could not produce a substantive outcome after consensus was blocked because of issues related to the war.
The NPT failure is only the latest example of how the conflict has affected international relations and cooperation. The longer it continues, the greater the risks it poses to international peace and security.
We need peace in Ukraine, peace founded on respect for the UN Charter and international law.
All wars are tragic, but none more than wars of choice.
Thank you, Mr. President.