Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefed the Security Council after the collapse earlier in the day of the Black Sea Initiative to transport grain and fertilizer from the region of the world.
“The longer this war continues, the more dangerous its consequences, including the possibility of a deeper conflict,” he warned.
“For the sake of the Ukrainian people and for the sake of our global community, this senseless, unjustified war must stop.”
A ‘living hell’
Given by Ms. DiCarlo the amount of destruction since the start of the war on 24 February 2022.
“More than 500 days since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, life in Ukraine remains a ‘living hell’, as the Secretary-General described it,” he said.
To date, 9,287 people have died and more than 16,300 have been injured, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, although the actual numbers are likely to be higher.
Children were particularly hard hit, with 537 deaths. Last year, Ukraine was the country with the highest number of children killed and maimed, and the most attacks on schools and hospitals.
“As the Secretary-General has always emphasized, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law,” he said.
Nuclear safety concerns
He also discussed the situation at the troubled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has been under Russian control since the first weeks of the war.
In recent days, experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stationed there have heard a series of explosions apparently far from the nuclear plant.
“This is a stark reminder of the potential nuclear safety and security risks the facility faces during the country’s military conflict,” he said.
Delivering aid to millions
As the conflict in Ukraine continues, the UN and partners continue to deliver aid, reaching more than five million people so far this year, with more than 65 inter-agency convoys in frontline areas.
He said humanitarians still cannot access Russian-controlled areas in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, where nearly 3.7 million people need help. Relations with Moscow and Kyiv continue.
Access is also critical following the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam last month, which devastated communities along the Dnipro River and affected local ecosystems.
Longing to go home
Meanwhile, displacement remains a serious concern. More than 6.3 million Ukrainians live as refugees, and an estimated 5.1 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs). The UN agency IOM said that almost 4.76 million people have returned to their communities since the war began in February 2022, including 1.1 million refugees.
Although most of the remaining refugees and IDPs want to return to their homes, insecurity makes this almost impossible as Ukraine is now one of the most mined countries in the world.
‘Grievous’ rights violations
Ms. also reported. DiCarlo the “sickening record of human rights violations” committed during the war. Abuses include arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence.
The latest report of the UN human rights office, OHCHR, documents 864 individuals detained in Russia, with many cases amounting to enforced disappearance. More than 90 percent of civilian detainees are reported to have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment, including sexual violence.
Justice and accountability
“We are also deeply concerned about the alleged summary execution of 77 civilians while they are being arbitrarily detained in the Russian Federation, as reported by OHCHR,” he said.
The UN rights office also documented 75 cases of arbitrary detention by Ukrainian security forces, mostly of people suspected of conflict-related crimes. In most cases, 57 percent, torture and ill-treatment occurred.
“All victims of human rights violations deserve justice and accountability, regardless of which part of the frontline they come from. Impunity must not be allowed to stand,” he said.
Russia is ready to reconsider
In his speech to the Council, the First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia Dmitriy Polyanskiy spoke of the decision to end the Black Sea Initiative after one year of operation.
He said that most of the corn and wheat exports went to rich countries while the poorest countries received three percent and the UN World Food Program (WFP) less.
“These facts are not very good, and they speak for themselves, and therefore the Black Sea Initiative does not have much to say changed from a humanitarian to a commercial one,” he said, speaking through by an interpreter.
Mr. Polyanskiy further stated that despite the efforts of the UN, there was “no progress” in persuading western countries to implement a joint agreement on Russian exports.
“The Russian Federation stands ready to consider its continuation if concrete results are achieved rather than promises and assurances from western capitals,” he said.
‘Blackmail’ and ‘hunger games’
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that his country wants to continue the flow of exports to international markets, and that Russia is “blackmailing” the world.
“This blackmail affects the lives of millions of Ukrainians and tens of millions more around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, who face the threat of rising food prices and hunger,” he said. .
Mr. Kuleba recalled that the grain initiative led to a drop in world food prices.
He called on UN Member States to “firmly demand that Russia continue its participation in the deal in good faith and stop the Hunger Games.”