UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL ROSEMARY A. DICARLO’S
REMARKS TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON
New York, 17 July 2023
Over 500 days since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, life in Ukraine remains a “living hell”, as the Secretary-General characterized it. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 9,287 civilians have been killed and 16,384 injured, most under Russian armed forces fire.
This figure includes 537 children killed and 1,117 injured. And these are only confirmed figures. The actual number of victims is likely considerably higher.
Children have been particularly hit hard by the conflict.
Ukraine was the country with the highest number of children killed and maimed in 2022. It was also the country with the most attacks on schools and hospitals.
Nowhere is safe in Ukraine. On 27 June, Russian missiles hit the city of Kramatorsk, reportedly killing 11 people, including 14-year-old twin sisters. At least 60 others were injured.
On 6 July, bombardments hit Kyiv, Odesa and Lviv, which are far from the front lines.
On 8 July, Russian artillery shelling reportedly killed at least eight civilians and wounded 13 in Lyman.
Communities in the Sumy region continue to be under constant Russian shelling.
Civilians in areas under Russian control also face mortal danger. On 9 July, four civilians were killed and many more injured while receiving humanitarian aid in the town of Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia region.
Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure – wherever they may occur - are indefensible and strictly prohibited under international law. They must cease immediately.
As the Secretary-General has consistently underlined, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a blatant violation of the UN Charter and international law.
The United Nations remains fully committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.
The parties involved bear the responsibility to avoid actions that could further escalate tensions.
In particular, any threat to use nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable. So is jeopardizing the safety and security of nuclear power plants and other critical infrastructure.
In recent days, experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency have heard a series of explosions apparently taking place some distance away from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. They are a stark reminder of potential nuclear safety and security risks facing the facility during the military conflict in the country.
The United Nations and humanitarian partners continue to respond to the dire consequences of the war, having reached over five million people with aid so far this year. There have been over 65 inter-agency convoys this year to frontline areas.
Unfortunately, the continuing lack of humanitarian access to Russian controlled areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions deprives an estimated 3.7 million people of much needed assistance.
We continue to engage with authorities in Moscow and Kyiv to secure access and urge Russia to fulfill its international obligations to grant humanitarian access to territories it controls.
Access is also an issue in the wake of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. The incident has devastated local communities along the Dnipro River and continues to have broad, long-term environmental consequences.
The flooding affected local ecosystems, exposed military and hazardous waste and shifted landmines. The UN is undertaking a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) to determine the wider impact in support of a comprehensive recovery strategy.
Displacement throughout Ukraine remains a serious concern.
Currently, more than 6.3 million Ukrainians are refugees, and an estimated 5.1 million people are internally displaced.
According to the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 4.76 million displaced people have returned to their communities since the beginning of the war, including 1.1 million refugees.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that while most of the remaining refugees and IDPs want to return to their places of origin, voluntary return in safety and dignity may not be possible for many given the security situation.
Indeed, Ukraine has become one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
As part of our support to the Government of Ukraine for the reconstruction and repair of critical infrastructure, the UN is assisting the country’s emergency services to remove over half a million landmines and pieces of unexploded ordnance, enabling four million people to return home.
OHCHR has documented a harrowing record of human rights violations, including arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence.
According to the latest OHCHR report, the Russian Federation arbitrarily detained 864 individuals. Many cases amounting to forced disappearance.
It is deeply disturbing that more than 91 per cent of civilian detainees held by the Russian Federation were reportedly subjected to torture or ill-treatment, including sexual violence.
More than 26 per cent of the detainees were transferred to other locations in violation of international law, either in Ukraine under Russian control, or to the Russian Federation itself.
We are also gravely concerned about the alleged summary execution of 77 civilians while they were arbitrarily detained by the Russian Federation, as reported by OHCHR.
OHCHR has also documented 75 of arbitrary detention by Ukrainian security forces, mostly of persons suspected of conflict-related criminal offences. In 57 per cent of the cases, OHCHR documented the use of torture and ill-treatment.
We call for the arbitrary detention of civilians to stop and for the immediate release in conditions of safety of all persons held arbitrarily. Victims must be provided with effective remedies.
We also urge the Russian Federation to guarantee independent monitors, including those of OHCHR, regular unimpeded and confidential access to all detainees.
All victims of human rights violations deserve justice and accountability, whichever side of the frontline they come from. Impunity must not be allowed to stand.
The Ukraine Recovery Conference in London last month was a demonstration of international solidarity, raising over $60 billion US dollars in pledges towards Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.
The UN will continue to support national and international partners in ongoing recovery efforts, following ‘Building Back Better’ and ‘Leaving No One Behind’ principles.
Globally, in 2023, it is projected that 345 million people across 79 countries, where the World Food Programme (WFP) is operational and data is available, will experience acute food insecurity.
Up to 40.4 million people across 51 countries face severe hunger emergencies and are one step away from falling into famine if they do not receive immediate assistance.
The Black Sea Initiative enabled the safe export of some 33 million metric tons of foodstuffs from three Ukrainian ports, including more than 725,000 metric tons of wheat transported by WFP, helping to relieve hunger in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
The initiative helped bring down global food prices.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Russian food and fertilizer exports also delivered concrete results over the past year.
As the Secretary-General stated this morning, the decision of the Russian Federation to terminate the Black Sea Initiative will strike a blow to people in need everywhere.
The Secretary-General also stated that this decision will not stop our efforts to facilitate the unimpeded access to global markets for food products and fertilizers from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
We knew well before 24 February 2022 that the world was at an inflection point.
We understood that we needed to take urgent action to deal with an overwhelming set of crises that, collectively, threaten our very existence. International cooperation and respect for the rule of law were more important than ever.
Today it is clear that, in addition to causing unconscionable death and destruction, the war in Ukraine has greatly diminished our ability to face an uncertain future.
It has heightened tensions in different regions, and risks triggering a global arms race.
The war threatens to undermine the very structures that prevented a third global conflagration and helped us resolve multiple conflicts over the last 80 years.
The longer this war continues, the more dangerous its consequences, including the possibility of a wider conflict.
For the sake of the Ukrainian people and for the sake of our global community, this senseless, unjustified war must stop.
Thank you, Mr. President.