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The United Nations' top political official warned that there is no resolution in sight for the ongoing war in Ukraine.
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The United Nations’ top political official warned that there is no resolution in sight for the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Rosemary DiCarlo emphasized the United Nations’ unwavering dedication to aiding any significant endeavors towards a fair, long-lasting, and all-encompassing peace.

The Russian military’s complete invasion of Ukraine commenced on February 24, 2022 and the Council has convened over 100 times to address the devastating aftermath, as she recounted.

War must stop 

Despite our best efforts, we find ourselves facing the third year of a serious conflict in Europe, comparable to the magnitude of the Second World War. Unfortunately, there seems to be no resolution in the near future. She issued this warning.

The consequences of this irrational conflict – in terms of loss of life, devastation, and chaos – are already devastating. It is frightening to imagine where it could ultimately take us. It is imperative that it comes to an end.

The OHCHR, the UN’s human rights office, has confirmed a total of 29,579 civilian casualties since the war began. This includes 10,242 fatalities, of which 575 were children, and over 19,300 injuries, including 1,264 children.

Recent wave of attacks 

According to OHCHR, Ms. Dicarlo reported that 96 people were killed and 423 were injured between 29 December and 2 January.

On December 29th, drone attacks throughout the entire country resulted in 58 fatalities and 158 injuries, marking the highest number of deaths in a single day for the year 2023.

According to reports, on December 30th, at least 25 civilians were killed and over 100 were injured in attacks on the Russian city of Belgorod, which were believed to be carried out by Ukraine. The attacks have continued across the border, causing some residents to leave the city.

On Saturday, it was reported that 11 civilians were killed in a missile attack in Pokrovsk, a town located in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. The attack was said to have been carried out by Russian forces, according to authorities.

According to Ms. DiCarlo, the civilians residing in frontline communities are most affected by the constant missile, drone, and artillery attacks. Approximately 70% of civilian casualties have been reported in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Concern for children 

She stated that the effect of the war on children is especially terrible. She pointed out that almost two-thirds of young people in Ukraine have had to leave their houses, and about 1.5 million children are in danger of developing post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues.

The use of missiles and drones is resulting in significant harm to civilian infrastructure, leaving thousands without access to electricity and water during harsh winter conditions.

“Despite the ongoing conflict, Ukrainians are actively reconstructing their lives and homes, focusing on developing areas that are less affected by direct hostilities,” Ms. DiCarlo informed ambassadors.

She stated that the UN is collaborating with government partners to provide ongoing assistance for local recovery, particularly in the energy industry.

Ms. DiCarlo also highlighted a recent positive occurrence – the much-anticipated trading of over 200 prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine on January 3, which was the biggest exchange since the war began.

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, briefs the Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

The Security Council meeting on the maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine was briefed by Edem Wosornu, the Director of Operations and Advocacy at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Humanitarians under fire 

The Council received an update on the crisis in Ukraine, where over 14.6 million individuals, equivalent to 40% of the population, are in need of aid.

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported that a combination of attacks and severe weather has resulted in over 1,000 villages and towns in the country being without access to electricity and water. This has affected millions of people.

The most recent series of assaults has had a greater impact on aid operations and has harmed those providing humanitarian aid. She stated that there has been a significant increase in the number of aid workers who have lost their lives, from four in 2022 to 15 in the previous year, with an additional 35 being injured.

“The recent increase in assaults targeting aid storage facilities over the last 60 days has resulted in over 50 incidents that have hindered aid operations in 2023. The majority of these incidents involve bombings targeting warehouses,” she stated.

Healthcare and education have been impacted.

In December, Ms. Wosornu reported that five humanitarian warehouses were destroyed by fire in the Kherson region. This resulted in the loss of many relief items, such as food, shelter materials, and medical supplies.

Hospitals and other medical institutions have been continuously targeted during the war. Since February 2022, there have been 1,435 confirmed attacks on the healthcare system, resulting in the deaths of 112 healthcare workers. Additionally, at least 10 facilities have been damaged in the recent series of aerial assaults.

Moreover, over 3,000 educational institutions have suffered damage or destruction. Many of the remaining facilities are now being utilized as shelters for displaced individuals or as hubs for distributing aid. As a result, nearly one million children are unable to access a secure and consistent education.

Sexual violence and trauma

According to Ms. Wosornu, the war has put millions of Ukrainians at a greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence, trafficking, and exploitation. There have been reports of conflict-related sexual violence being inflicted on individuals as young as four and as old as 80.

I am reminded of a more significant aspect of this war. Beyond the obvious physical consequences for Ukraine and its people, there lies a hidden yet equally destructive effect: indications of a profound psychological trauma that could have long-lasting effects on millions of individuals. The speaker cautioned.

In 2022, humanitarian aid efforts in Ukraine provided assistance to approximately 11 million individuals. An initial request of $3.9 billion was made to fund operations for the following year, but a total of $2.5 billion was ultimately received.

Next week in Geneva, the 2024 humanitarian plan for Ukraine will be initiated, aiming to raise $3.1 billion in support of 8.4 million individuals.

To access a comprehensive report on the statements from Council members, visit our UN Meetings Coverage Service at this link.