United Nations: The war in Ukraine is approaching its first year and there is no end in sight

A beautiful sunset

Prior to the first anniversary of the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the Security Council held a public meeting devoted to reviewing the latest political and humanitarian developments in the Russian war in Ukraine.

The session took place at the request of Albania and the United States, the two countries currently involved in drafting resolutions on the situation in Ukraine in the Security Council.

Council members heard a detailed briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, in which she reiterated what the Secretary-General had already said, that the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.

She pointed out that this war has caused a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe, traumatized a generation of children and precipitated global food and energy crises.

And she underlined that Ukraine, Russia and the world cannot bear the continuation of this war, stressing the readiness of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to help the parties to put an end to this senseless and unjustified conflict, on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

Heavy Russian raids continue over holiday season

No end to fighting or suffering in sight, DiCarlo said The war in Ukraine From his first birthday.

He said Russian forces continued their raids on major Ukrainian cities throughout the holiday season.

“Many Ukrainians had spent what would normally be considered a holiday season in orphanages away from the celebrations, and countless families across the country were mourning the loss of their loved ones.”

Rosemary DiCarlo reported that the attacks continued into the new year despite news of a possible cessation of hostilities on Orthodox Christmas, a holy day for Russians and Ukrainians.

More than 18,000 victims since the start of the Russian invasion
The Under-Secretary-General noted the intensification of ground fighting, particularly in the Donetsk region. In areas of active hostilities such as Bakhmut and Solidar, intense battles, including street fighting, pose a significant threat to the remaining civilian population.

In Bakhmut alone, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented 22 civilians killed and 72 injured since the beginning of December.

DiCarlo said the Human Rights Office has verified more than 18,000 civilian casualties since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022. That total includes nearly 7,000 dead and more than 11,000 injured. The actual numbers are probably much higher.

Millions flee Ukraine
The war has forced millions of people to flee their homes. Ms DiCarlo praised the generosity of countries that have taken in some 7.9 million people seeking protection in Europe and encouraged countries to do more to ensure refugees have equal access to rights and services in national systems.

In Ukraine, some 5.91 million people have been displaced, 65% of whom are women and girls.

An international needs assessment of damaged infrastructure
At Ukraine’s request to the Secretary-General, UNDP initiated a sector damage assessment in cooperation with the World Bank.

The assessment, which is currently being implemented, aims to identify the most critical needs for the restoration of damaged energy infrastructure, with 90% of the data collection process completed, according to the UN official.

The number of recorded attacks on healthcare facilities last year was the highest in the world, with 745 incidents recorded as of January 4.

In the most affected regions in the east and south of the country, 15% of installations are said to be partially or fully operational, and up to 50% in Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv.

Invisible scars
DiCarlo said the war also leaves invisible scars. According to the World Health Organization, nearly a quarter of the population is at risk of developing a mental health problem as a result of this war.

The destruction and closure of schools will have a lasting impact on children and young people, with an estimated 5.7 million school-aged children directly affected, including 3.6 million due to the closure of educational institutions in the start of the conflict.

Humanitarian organizations continue to provide vital services
Against this backdrop, DiCarlo said, aid organizations have continued their efforts in recent months with the aim of expanding rescue operations in previously inaccessible areas, including the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

As of 5 January, humanitarian partners had provided food to nearly 9 million people. The same number of people received essential health support across the country.

In total, nearly 14 million people have received assistance from more than 740 partners since February 24 last year, including one million people in areas not under the control of the Government of Ukraine.

But the humanitarian response is severely limited in reaching those in need, especially in eastern regions under Russian control.

Rosemary DiCarlo said the parties should, in accordance with international humanitarian law, facilitate the rapid and unhindered passage of humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need.

Hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable
The Under-Secretary-General noted that OHCHR continued to document allegations of gross human rights violations and support efforts to ensure accountability.

Since February, UNHCR has documented more than 90 cases of conflict-related sexual violence.

And she stressed the need to hold all perpetrators of human rights violations to account, noting that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court continues its work in Ukraine, as it has maintained its presence there since May 2022.

Positive developments
In this context, the Under-Secretary-General welcomed the continued contacts and commitment of both sides to continue the exchange of prisoners of war, the most recent of which took place on Sunday, when 50 Ukrainian prisoners and 50 Russian prisoners have been exchanged.

She said she was encouraged by the meeting organized by Turkey on January 11 between the mediators of the Russian and Ukrainian sides on this issue.

Cereals initiative makes a difference
On the other hand, DiCarlo said that the Black Sea Grain Initiative, despite the difficult context in which it operates, continues to make a difference, in particular by helping to bring down world food prices.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has now reported a sustained decline in the food price index.

To date, more than 17 million metric tons of food have been transported under the initiative and have arrived or are on their way to 43 countries.

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