Welcome to the United Nations

Ukraine: We are no closer to the end of "illegal and unjustified war", tells USG DiCarlo




New York, 6 FEBRUARY 2024

Madam President,

On Saturday, 3 February, 28 people, including a child, were reportedly killed, and dozens more injured, in the shelling of a building housing a bakery and a restaurant in the town of Lysychansk, in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Lysychansk is currently under the control of the Russian Federation.

In regions under Ukrainian control, the last few weeks have seen a reported intensification of Russian strikes.

Yesterday, four civilians were reportedly killed in the city of Kherson, and one more in the Sumy region. Attacks resulting in civilian casualties were also reported in Donetsk and Kharkiv regions.

Last week there was a significant escalation in violence, with more than 570 settlements targeted, mainly in the Zaporizhzhia region. The attacks killed 12 civilians and left 60 others injured.

Today, it was reported that a two-month-old infant was killed and his mother wounded, when a missile hit a hotel in the village of Zolochiv in Kharkiv region. Two other women were injured.

The impact of these attacks is devastating, particularly for the communities near active conflict zones.

Since February 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 30,041 civilian casualties, with 10,382 killed, including 579 children, and 19,659 people injured, including 1,285 children.

The number of civilian casualties in Ukraine significantly increased in December and January compared with previous months, reversing a trend of decreasing civilian casualties throughout 2023. OHCHR has verified that 158 civilians were killed and 483 injured in January.

I must underscore once again that attacks on civilians, and civilian infrastructure, wherever they occur are prohibited under international law. They are unacceptable and must stop immediately.

Madam President,

We acknowledge the tireless efforts of humanitarian organizations, including many local and women-led initiatives, to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the conflict. But the people of Ukraine need much more.

On 15 January, the United Nations and partners asked donors for a combined $4.2 billion to support war-affected communities in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees and their host communities in the region throughout 2024.

Nearly two years since the invasion, 14.6 million people need humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, a staggering 40 per cent of the population. Some 6.3 million people have fled the country and remain refugees, mostly across Europe. 

After almost two years of no, or very restricted, access to civilians in the areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine under Russian control, some 1.5 million people there are estimated to be in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

International humanitarian law requires the parties to allow access to all civilians in need, no matter where they live. Any obstructions that leave the civilian population without the essentials to survive run contrary to this obligation and must cease immediately.

Moreover, as the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, we are increasingly concerned about the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers.

The recent attack in Kherson region resulting in the loss of two French nationals, working for a Swiss NGO, highlights the dangers faced by those providing essential aid on the ground.

Last year, eleven aid workers were killed in the line of duty in Ukraine. In January of this year alone, five aid workers were injured.

Similar to attacks on other civilians, attacks on humanitarian aid workers are prohibited under international law. They too must be stopped.

Madam President,

In a positive development, last week saw a successful exchange of hundreds of prisoners of war (POWs), both Ukrainian and Russian service members.  

We urge the parties to continue such exchanges.

          At the same time, I must reiterate our concern regarding the treatment of the remaining prisoners of war. As I stressed at my last briefing, the parties must fulfil their obligations under the Geneva Conventions. 

We continue to urge the Russian Federation to provide independent international monitors unfettered access to POWs.

Madam President,

A year after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the General Assembly adopted resolution (A/RES/ES-11/6), calling for increased support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

Now, another year has passed, and we are no closer to the end of this illegal and unjustified war.

Instead, Ukrainians are mourning thousands more of their loved ones, millions remain displaced and more of the country has been laid waste.

In just over two weeks, we will enter the third year of the war. With each passing day, the damage the conflict has done - and is doing - to Ukraine but also to global peace and security as well as international law becomes increasingly clear.

Only a solution in line with the UN Charter, international law and UN General Assembly resolutions will achieve a just and lasting peace.

Thank you, Madam President.