Ukraine, Russia and the world cannot continue the war, the UN defends
“There is no sign of an end to the fighting. The prevailing logic is military logic, there is little room for dialogue at the moment,” explained Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
“But all wars come to an end, and this one will. Ukraine, Russia, the world cannot continue this war. The Secretary-General is ready to help the parties to put an end to this senseless and unjustified conflict based on the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” he added to the Council members.
Ms. DiCarlo noted that during the holiday season, Russian forces continued to strike major cities in Ukraine.
Tens of thousands of victims
Following the latest fighting, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 18,096 civilian casualties since the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022. This includes a total of 6,952 deaths and 11,144 injuries. The real numbers are probably higher.
The war forced millions of people to leave their homes. 7.9 million people sought protection in Europe. 5.91 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine, 65% of whom are women and girls.
“This displacement is due to the deliberate and systematic targeting of critical civilian infrastructure, including energy and health facilities,” the UN political affairs chief said.
Following Ukraine’s appeal to the Secretary-General, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with the World Bank has launched a sector-specific damage assessment. DiCarlo said the assessment, which aims to identify the most critical needs to restore damaged power infrastructure, is ongoing and 90% of data collection is complete.
Impact on mental health
In addition, last year the number of recorded attacks against healthcare institutions was the highest in the world. As of January 4, 745 cases have occurred. In the worst-hit regions in the east and south of the country, 15% of facilities are said to be partially or completely inoperable, and up to 50% in Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv.
“War inevitably leaves invisible scars. According to the World Health Organization, about a quarter of the population is at risk of mental illness as a result of this war,” Ms. DiCarlo lamented. “The destruction and closure of schools will also have a lasting impact on children and young people. About 5.7 million school-aged children were directly affected, including 3.6 million due to the closure of educational institutions at the beginning of the conflict.
He noted that in recent months, humanitarian organizations have continued their efforts to expand rescue operations in previously inaccessible areas, including Kharkiv and Kherson regions. But he recalled that humanitarian aid was hampered by severe access restrictions, particularly in eastern areas controlled by Russia. “In accordance with international humanitarian law, parties must facilitate the swift and unhindered passage of humanitarian aid for all civilians in need,” he said.
Violation of human rights
OHCHR continues to document allegations of serious human rights violations and support accountability efforts, Ms. DiCarlo said. Since February 24, OHCHR has documented more than 90 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, which fall into two main categories: most primarily affecting men, such as torture and ill-treatment in detention; and sexual violence related to rape, including gang rape, of women and girls in Russian-controlled territories.
“It is important that all persons who commit human rights violations be brought to justice. On the question of accountability, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court continues its work in Ukraine,” said Mrs. DiCarlo.
On a positive note, the Head of Political Affairs welcomed the ongoing contacts and the commitment of the parties to continue the exchange of prisoners of war. In addition, the Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to contribute to lower world food prices. Now more than 17 million tons of food have been supplied under this initiative.
According to him, the UN “continues to engage with all interested parties to remove remaining obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizers, including ammonia.” “This is critical to keeping export prices low and reducing food insecurity, and we call on all parties to work towards this end,” he said.