Source United Nations
Media www.rajawalisiber.com – Remarks by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, to the Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. [All-English version]
Mr. President, President Berset, Excellencies.
I thank the Government of Switzerland for convening this important debate. And President Spoljaric for joining us.
Less than six weeks have passed since war erupted in Sudan. In that time:
Hundreds of civilians have been killed – including members of the United Nations family; 250,000 people have fled the country;
Hospitals have been occupied and attacked; The price of goods is reported to have quadrupled in parts of the country;
Hospitals have been occupied and attacked;
The price of goods is reported to have quadrupled in parts of the country;
And aid warehouses have been looted on a massive scale.
Terrible as this picture is, it is far from unique.
My report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in 2022 shows that war is devastating lives around the world.
Explosive weapons continue to wreak havoc, especially in the cities:
Last year, 94 per cent of their victims in populated areas were civilians.
Those able to flee the fighting did so in record numbers:
The total number forced from their homes due to conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution reached 100 million refugees.
Health facilities and schools were devastated, and their workers injured, kidnapped and killed.
At least 2000 schools were destroyed in three regions of Ethiopia alone.
Humanitarians also faced regular threats.
Their work was hampered by violence, bureaucracy and politics, and obstructed by overly-broad sanctions and counterterrorism measures.
In Afghanistan, the ban by the de facto authorities on women working in the humanitarian aid sector is having life-threatening consequences for women and girls.
War means hunger. Armed conflict is a key factor driving food insecurity around the world.
Last year, more than 117 million people faced acute hunger primarily because of war and insecurity.
This is an outrage. Damage to critical infrastructure hampers food production, blocks distribution and deprives people of safe water:
Syria now has 40 percent less drinking water than at the start of the conflict.
Fighters destroy crops and steal livestock;
Explosives contaminate fertile land; Markets cannot function, and prices rocket.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed to the rise in the price of food, energy and fertilizer globally, with terrible effects for the world’s poorest.
And when conflict combines with the climate crisis, harvests shrink and people go hungry.
I saw this for myself during my recent visit to Somalia.
After years of war, Somalis have been going through their worst drought in decades.
An estimated 43,000 people died as a result in 2022 alone, half of them children, and millions have been forced from their homes.
There has been action over the past year to alleviate the impact of conflict on civilians:
Some parties to conflicts have taken steps to protect children, allow humanitarians to gain access to those in need, and more.
My newly-appointed Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator is leading a system-wide response to rising food insecurity.
And our Action Agenda on Internal Displacement outlines a plan to respond to the record number of displaced people and prevent further crises.
The Black Sea Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding to promote Russian food and fertilizer to global markets helped to stabilize markets, bring down prices and ease the food crisis.
Ukraine has been able to export over 30 million metric tons of food.
That includes lifesaving grain transported by the World Food Programme to support humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen.
I welcome the Russian Federation’s confirmation that it will continue to participate in the Black Sea Initiative for another 60 days.
Outstanding issues remain.
But representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations will keep discussing them.
And looking ahead, we hope that exports of food and fertilizers, including ammonia, from the Russian Federation and Ukraine will be able to reach global supply chains safely and predictably.
This is foreseen in both the Black Sea Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding – the implementation of which the United Nations is fully committed to support.
Last November, states adopted a political declaration to protect civilians by restricting or refraining from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
I urge all states to join and turn the declaration into meaningful action.