Let me thank the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, for their frank accounts of the consequences of the Russian invasion for the civilians in Ukraine.
We need your strong leadership in the response to this unfolding humanitarian crisis. Norway is stepping up our support to the civilian population in Ukraine. The government has announced it will provide up to 226 million US dollars to the humanitarian response.
Let me start by underlining that Russia, and Russia alone, bears the sole responsibility for this humanitarian crisis through its unprovoked, unjustified and irresponsible military aggression it has blatantly violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The parties to the conflict in Ukraine must comply with their obligations under international law, including human rights and international humanitarian law. They must ensure the protection of the civilian population in all of Ukraine.
We demand that all parties ensure the respect for, and protection of all medical personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities.
We are calling on parties to the conflict to protect all humanitarian personnel, and ensure and facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid for those in need. The space for neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action must be restored and protected.
Fighting is going on in and around urban areas, with the use of heavy explosive weapons. We are deeply concerned about the long-term harm to the civilians, including children, and civilian infrastructure. Homes, schools, hospitals, water plants and other civilian infrastructure is being damaged and destroyed.
We are deeply concerned about the reported use of cluster munitions. Explosive remnants of war will continue to kill and injure even after the conflict ends. And they will prevent people from returning home, going to school, coming back to work and rebuilding their communities.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are fleeing the conflict. We commend the neighboring 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 to all those in need, without discrimination. We will do our part, including providing support.
This weekend, two media workers were shot and injured. Journalists and media workers are civilians under international humanitarian law. The world relies on independent and truthful reporting of the events that are unfolding. The heroic efforts by Ukrainian and international press are incredibly important. We urge all parties to respect and protect the press - both on the ground and online.
We demand the unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine, to restore the respect for the charter of the United Nations and international law, and prevent further civilian suffering. Russia started the war in Ukraine. It can choose to stop it.