Let me begin by thanking the briefers for their sobering accounts of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. Particularly for outlining the terrifying ordeal many children are facing.
We are seriously concerned by the staggering numbers of civilian casualties in Ukraine. Children have been killed and wounded. Children have lost their homes.
Let me underline that Russia, and Russia alone, bears the sole responsibility for this humanitarian crisis. The Russian aggression against Ukraine must stop now. Troops must be withdrawn immediately.
Civilians, including children, and civilian infrastructure must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.
We are deeply concerned by the reported use of cluster munitions by Russian forces in Ukraine. These are inherently indiscriminate weapons. They continue to kill and injure children long after conflicts end.
Children are traumatised as they seek shelter from the bombing and shelling. Forced to flee across Ukraine, and across borders. Putting them at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
We are deeply concerned about unaccompanied children separated from their families. Every effort must be made to restore family links, and trace missing persons.
Humanitarian organisations must give priority to the assistance and protection of children affected by the conflict, including their need for mental health and psychosocial support.
Russia’s warfare in urban and populated areas, and the use of heavy explosive weapons, is causing terrible, long-term harm on civilians and cause the most severe physical harm to children, killing and maiming them.
With the attacks on hospitals, water processing plants, food systems and other civilian infrastructure children are being deprived of services essential for their life and health.
The fighting around nuclear plants endangers the health and safety of today’s children and those of future generations - in Ukraine and beyond.
And schools are under attack. These attacks represent a clear violation of resolution 2601 on the protection of education in armed conflict, which the Council unanimously adopted only a few months ago. We call on the Russian Federation to respect the civilian character of schools and educational facilities in accordance with international humanitarian law.
We stand behind and support OCHA’s call today for concrete steps to be taken to ensure protection of civilians and humanitarian access.
We call on the parties to the conflict to comply with their obligation under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to those in need.
The space for humanitarian action must be restored and protected in a way that ensures continuous and sustained humanitarian access.
Civilians must be protected at all times. Cease-fire agreements and so-called humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians can be measures for this purpose. Evacuations of civilians must be safe, voluntary and to destinations of their own choosing. Unclear agreements won’t meet the needs of the civilian population.
Those civilians who are leaving, and also those civilians who are remaining, must be protected.
We commend the neighbouring countries for keeping their borders open and for the great generosity and solidarity shown with people fleeing the conflict. The door to safety and protection must remain open, without discrimination.
We also commend all the humanitarian organisations, and in particular the local organisations, for their heroic efforts to deliver lifesaving aid. Medical and humanitarian workers must be protected. They are not a target.
Norway condemns Russia’s massive military aggression against Ukraine. We reiterate our call on Russia to withdraw its troops immediately, and stop causing further death, suffering and destruction. The 7,5 million children of Ukraine are seeing the places they live, play and learn being damaged and destroyed. Their lives and future are at stake.
This war must stop now. Dialogue and diplomacy are the only way forward.