On 23 February 2022, this chamber heard impassioned pleas to avert a war in Ukraine. To no avail.
Today, exactly six months later, there is no end in sight to the conflict triggered by the Russian Federation’s invasion.
As we meet, the heaviest fighting is concentrated in the eastern Donbas region; in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia; and in the north-east near Kharkiv. But virtually all corners of Ukraine are affected, and no one is out of reach of missile strikes.
At the same time, several attacks, conducted mainly with drones, have also been reported in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, occupied by the Russian Federation since 2014.
Civilians are paying a heavy price in this war. During the past 181 days the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded 13,560 civilian casualties: 5,614 killed and 7,946 injured. These figures are based on verified incidents; actual numbers are considerably higher.
The majority of civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons with wide area effects. The use of these weapons in and around populated areas has predictable and devastating consequences.
To date, OHCHR has documented damage, destruction, or use for military purposes of 249 medical facilities and 350 educational facilities. Actual figures may be higher.
The indiscriminate shelling and bombing of populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, are actions that may amount to war crimes.
We continue to receive reports of human rights violations. The arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of civilians, including local authorities, journalists, civil society activists and other civilians, continues.
OHCHR has documented 327 cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of civilians by the Russian Federation and affiliated armed groups in non-government-controlled territory.
OHCHR has also recorded 39 arbitrary arrests in Ukrainian government-controlled territory and 28 other cases that may amount to enforced disappearance.
Fourteen victims of enforced disappearances perpetrated by the Russian Federation and affiliated armed groups were found dead or died while in detention – 13 men and 1 woman.
OHCHR has also corroborated allegations of hundreds of willful killings of civilians while parts of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions under Russian control in February-March 2022.
It has also verified 43 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, the majority attributable to Russian armed forces.
We are also concerned about the situation of prisoners of war on both sides.
All prisoners of war are protected under International Humanitarian Law. There is a need for unimpeded and confidential access by the International Committee of the Red Cross to all places of detention, including to places of internment of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian detainees in the Russian Federation.
We are concerned by reports that the Russian Federation and affiliated armed groups in Donetsk are planning to try Ukrainian prisoners of war in a so-called “international tribunal” in Mariupol.
Any tribunal must respect the protections afforded to all prisoners of war by international law, including fair trial guarantees. The failure to uphold these standards could amount to a war crime.
Humanitarian needs continue to rise rapidly. At least 17.7 million people, or 40 percent of the Ukrainian population, need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 3.3 million children.
Humanitarian access is of great concern. Roads are heavily contaminated with explosive ordnance, putting civilians at risk and stopping humanitarian convoys from reaching them.
Over 6.6 million internally displaced persons have been recorded. Another 6.7 million people have left Ukraine to other countries in Europe, most of them women and children.
As winter approaches, the destruction caused by war, combined with the lack of access to fuel or electricity due to damaged infrastructure, could become a matter of life or death, if people are unable to heat their homes.
An estimated 1.7 million people are already in need of urgent assistance with heating, shelter repair and other winterization preparation, as temperatures in parts of the country are expected to decline to -20 degrees Celsius
The UN’s ongoing winterization efforts aim to complement and support the work led by the Government of Ukraine.
Our revised Flash Appeal requires $4.3 billion to support 17.7 million people in need of assistance through December 2022. Donors have generously provided $2.4 billion, as of 19 August. The humanitarian response has scaled-up to 500 humanitarian organization partners reaching over 11.8 million people with at least one form of assistance.
The war has severely impacted agriculture in Ukraine, leaving thousands of farmers without income, destroying grain storage facilities, and exacerbating food insecurity among vulnerable groups. According to the World Food Programme, 20 per cent of the people of Ukraine have insufficient food.
As the Secretary-General emphasized, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine are being felt worldwide.
According to World Food Programme (WFP) estimates, 345 million people will be acutely food insecure or at a high risk of food insecurity in 82 countries with a WFP operational presence. This represents an increase of 47 million acutely hungry people due to the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine.
Last month, UNDP estimated that up to 71 million people may have already been pushed into poverty in the three months after the start of the war. Key affected areas include the Balkans, the Caspian Sea region and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Sahel.
The global financial situation remains volatile, with concerns about potential stagflation scenarios in the latter part of 2022 and 2023. Energy markets remain under stress, a serious concern as the winter season in the northern hemisphere approaches.
While food prices have stabilized in recent weeks, this has not necessarily translated to lower inflation rates yet. Inflation continued to accelerate in July 2022.
It is breaking multidecade records in developed countries, and yet it is developing countries and LDCs that have been more drastically affected.
The fiscal situation in many developing economies is a particular concern, particularly as their borrowing ability has been fragile following the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with significant expenditures. Today, developing country debts and import bills are coming under further pressure.
We remain concerned that the deteriorating socio-economic situation in developing countries, particularly those in already fragile situations, could lead to social unrest.
While it is difficult to establish a direct link to the war, we have already seen an increase in the number of riots between the first and second quarter of 2022.
Today’s grim six-month anniversary coincides with Ukraine’s national day. This is an occasion to celebrate the country’s sovereignty and independence and proud heritage, and we congratulate the people of Ukraine on this day.
But let us recall that the human and material toll of the war is tragic, colossal and evident. First and foremost, for Ukraine and its people, and economic consequences for the world are ominous and growing.
The conflict is having another impact that, although less tangible, is just as perilous. In deepening global divisions and exacerbating mistrust in our institutions, the war is weakening the foundations of our international system.
The consequences of a breakdown in how the world manages questions of peace and security are frightening to contemplate.
This war is not only senseless, but exceedingly dangerous, and it touches all of us. It must end.