Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Ukraine
Statement12 May 2022
Thank you very much, President, and my thanks also to our briefers this morning, Assistant Secretary-General Msuya and Deputy Executive Director Abdi. I want to thank you both for all the work done by you and your colleagues to help alleviate the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people by the Russian Federation’s senseless and illegal war. Thank you again.
President, shockingly, two thirds of all children in Ukraine have had to leave- flee- their homes, many leaving behind parents and grandparents, all leaving behind the lives they knew. These children face the horrendous risks of abuse, trafficking, and exploitation. This is unconscionable.
We have heard reports of children killed and maimed by indiscriminate attacks. We are also hearing chilling reports of sexual violence perpetrated by Russian soldiers, with children reportedly among those violated. That is abhorrent.
We simply cannot accept such violations of international law, causing this suffering and trauma, not in Ukraine, not anywhere in the world. These horrific violations must end and those responsible must- will- be held to account.
As civilian infrastructure across Ukraine continues to be demolished by Russian forces we must respond to the destruction of hundreds of schools, including kindergartens.
Attacks on schools, in violation of international law, have profound impacts on the children affected. Let’s remember, as in the case of killing, maiming, and sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals are ‘listable’ under the CAAC agenda. If this Council is to protect children in armed conflict and to seriously tackle impunity, we must support the integrity and impartiality of listing on these grounds.
This Council recognised children’s right to education in conflict with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2601, just a few months ago. Are our memories really that short? Our words should be followed by actions. Collectively, we need to take action to address the disruption of education through the provision of education in emergency settings, psycho-social services, mental health support and health care.
It is clear that child protection capacities in Ukraine need to be urgently resourced. In so far as possible, this Council should support UN monitors and child protection staff.
Ireland calls on the Secretary General and on Special Representative Gamba to consider adding Ukraine as a ‘situation of concern’ in the upcoming annual reports on children and armed conflict, in order to further assist the extremely important monitoring work carried out by UN staff. Grave violations and abuses have been committed against children in eastern Ukraine since 2014, and now, with the alarming increase in violations since the further Russian invasion two months ago, we would fully expect to see this reflected in the next reports.
We also call on the Secretary General and SRSG Gamba to use all tools and mechanisms to address any CAAC violations taking place in Ukraine and to deliver on accountability.
The most innocent of victims, millions of Ukraine’s children are being robbed of their childhoods and their futures by this war. Denying children their right to education has profound impacts on their individual development, but also on the future of Ukrainian society as a whole.
We continue to see the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including on schools. Now and long after the conflict, the contamination of explosive remnants of war will have a disproportionate impact on the children of Ukraine, carrying risks of death or injury, further blighting their futures.
Equally, robbing children of the possibility of routine vaccinations exposes them to critical outbreaks of communicable diseases which can also have long term, debilitating consequences.
The evacuations from Mariupol negotiated by the Secretary General and the UN have shown that it is possible to do the right thing for civilians, and that the Humanitarian Notification System can function. We must continue all our efforts to help the people of Ukraine.
The reverberations of this war, we know, reach far beyond Ukraine’s borders. We also know that they will reach beyond this generation. We all have a responsibility to support the people of Ukraine long after this war has ended.
At this table, we have repeatedly called for the war to end, for the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces and to engage in true dialogue and diplomacy. However, while armed conflict continues, Russia must comply with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law. We will not tire of making this call. We must meet our responsibilities. The children of Ukraine deserve no less from us.