I thank the USG Griffiths for your very sobering remarks.
Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine – in blatant disregard of international law and the UN Charter – has, and will continue to have, alarming humanitarian consequences.
Russia’s warfare has killed and maimed civilians – including children – destroyed homes, hospitals, and schools.
Their cynical destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure - including yesterday’s missile strikes - is already causing significant suffering, and has the potential for further catastrophic consequences as winter deepens.
Children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly are in a particularly vulnerable situation.
Attacks on schools and other educational institutions are clearly in contradiction of Security Council Resolution 2601 on the protection of education in conflict. A resolution Russia voted in favour of, and which was unanimously adopted by this Council. These attacks may also constitute violations of international humanitarian law. They must stop. Children and other civilians must be protected.
Russia’s war has led to massive displacement. We are concerned about the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and human trafficking that displaced people – in particular women and unaccompanied children – are exposed to.
Thousands of Ukrainian children have reportedly been transferred to Russia for adoption and naturalisation through simplified and accelerated procedures, without the consent of their parents or legal guardians. We strongly condemn this inhumane practice.
Nevertheless, throughout this war, the Ukrainian people have shown great bravery and resilience. We commend communities, local responders, and humanitarian organisations that continue to serve people in need.
We reiterate our call for safe, rapid, and unimpeded, humanitarian access to all people in need. And underline the importance of putting children’s needs at the centre of the humanitarian response.
Numerous reports already point to widespread violations of international humanitarian law committed by Russian forces in Ukraine – many possibly at the level of war crimes. Individuals at all levels must be held to account.
We are alarmed by the Russian Federation’s use of the Wagner Group as part of its warfare. They are accused of committing numerous violations of international humanitarian law – including torture, rape, and looting.
Now, Wagner are reportedly recruiting convicted criminals from prisons in Russia to fight in Ukraine. We are concerned that soldiers with this background are a particular risk to the civilian population.
The Secretary-General added Ukraine as a situation of concern, with immediate effect, in his annual report to the Security Council on Children in Armed Conflict. We welcome the engagement of the SRSG for Children in Armed Conflict with all parties to the conflict. Child protection issues must urgently be addressed, including the prevention of violations against children. And we call on all relevant actors to support and facilitate the work of the SRSG.
Russia’s war has also aggravated a global food and energy crisis. It affects the lives and futures of children and families in many regions dramatically. We welcome the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the efforts of the Secretary-General to facilitate availability of food and fertilizers to world markets.
Let me end by reiterating that Ukraine can count on Norway’s continued support. And we welcome President Zelenskyy’s “Peace Formula” initiative.
Russia must stop the war and fully, immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukraine.