Statement by Ambassador Kelly at the UNSC Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine
Statement28 February 2022
I would like to thank Under Secretary General Griffiths and High Commissioner Grandi for their sobering briefings and urgent calls to action today.
The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified further invasion of Ukraine continues to visit death and destruction upon the country and its people, inflicting enormous hardship and suffering. Ireland stands in unwavering solidarity with the people of Ukraine. They have shown extraordinary courage and resilience.
This fresh onslaught comes on the heels of eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, which had already displaced over 1.4 million people who relied on assistance to meet their daily needs. The Russian Federation’s invasion has created a humanitarian catastrophe, compounding the suffering of millions with a rapidly rising toll of internally displaced persons and refugees in need of humanitarian assistance. Millions of people in Ukraine are grappling with the humanitarian consequences of a war not of their making. Innocent civilians, including children, are paying the terrible price of conflict.
In Kharkiv, Kherson, and elsewhere, we have seen significant damage to essential infrastructure. This damage has left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity and water. It has deprived them of vital medical facilities, transportation services, and means of communications. This is unacceptable.
The parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to attack only military objectives, the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack. Ireland is gravely concerned by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, which carries a particular risk of causing civilian harm in violation of these fundamental legal obligations.
We are particularly concerned by reports today of indiscriminate Russian attacks and shelling in Kharkiv, causing death and destruction amongst the civilian population.
The use of prohibited cluster munitions by Russian forces has been reported. If confirmed, this is a further damning indictment of its military aggression. Cluster munitions are by nature indiscriminate and we condemn all use of these weapons in all circumstances.
Ireland urges against attacks on infrastructure and installations including nuclear power plants. Such attacks would have profound effects on the health of millions and render the surrounding environment uninhabitable for generations to come.
Any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of international law, including the principles of the United Nations Charter, Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and the IAEA Statute. We also expresses our great concern at the deployment of weapons and armaments, or conducting missile strikes directly from the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
The Russian Federation must protect all civilians in Ukraine. We recall its obligations to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law.
The safety of all humanitarian and medical workers must be ensured. Humanitarians must not be prevented from ensuring principled assistance is delivered where it is most needed, when it is most needed.
Ireland and its EU partners are providing significant humanitarian support and we stand ready to do more.
We commend our EU partners and Moldova for their generosity and solidarity in providing shelter to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the war. They are deserving of our support in providing timely humanitarian assistance, especially to the most vulnerable – the elderly, the young and the sick.
We appeal to all countries in the region to keep their borders open to all of those seeking safety and protection. Ireland is already providing humanitarian support, including core funding to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as well as announcing a €10 million humanitarian package in recent days.
When conflicts rage, unpredictable, even barely conceivable outcomes can become all too real. Threats to unleash forces that cannot be controlled, including threats of nuclear weapons are utterly unacceptable. Ireland has long argued that nuclear weapons offer no security. Their use would cause devastation in the region and beyond, bringing a new blight on humanity for generations to come.
That is not a prospect that any of us should be willing to contemplate.
Mr. President, we urge the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities, unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine, and refrain from further threats or the use of force of any kind against Ukraine or any other Member State.
In sum, we urge Russia to turn away from war and choose the path of dialogue and diplomacy. This is the right path, and the time to take it is now, before any more lives are ruined or lost.